Is Surgery Required to Deflate a Saline Implant?

I got my implants 13 years ago, and have hated them from the first day. They both looked so high up near my collar bone, and did not look natural. Once one deflated, I quite like it's appearance. I really do not want to remove either implant at this time. Nor do I want them replaced, ever. However, I would like to deflate the intact implant to match it's counterpart. Is this possible? Or, is it necessary to have both removed entirely at this time?

Doctor Answers 24

Deflate an implant

Of course it can be deflated by needle aspiration, I have done it many times.  LIke you some patients I've encountered had no further use for their implants and wanted symmetry after deflation of one side.  Some were too old to undergo further surgery, some couldn't afford the extraction surgery or simply couldn't take time off to actually do it.  Often times I deliberately deflate the good implant just to restore the original shape of the breasts in preparation for revision surgery when there are questions about  symmetry.  Of course this situation is temporary but in the long run a deflated implant  is no different than an inflated one in terms of being a foreign object inside your body.

Oklahoma City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Deflated saline implants

Deflating the other implant is a short term solution.  It can be done by a physician.  Leaving the deflated bags long term is not advisable.  Removal of these implants is quick and very minor.  It can be done under local anesthesia.

Wishing you all the best,

Tal Raine MD FACS

Talmage J. Raine, MD, FACS
Champaign Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Deflated saline breast implants

Thank you for asking about your saline breast implants.

  1. Your inflated breast implant looks much too large for your frame.
  2. A breast implant is easily deflated in the office with local anesthesia. 
  3. As long as it causes no problems, leaving a deflated implant in place is fine. But eventually its hard edge is likely to irritate your skin. At that point, the
  4. saline implants can be removed with local anesthesia in the office. 
  5. Best wishes. 

Remove them under local if possible


It is difficult to say what the implants might do if left in place. Delayed scarring or infection is potentially possible. Removal is advisable. This can at times be done in simple and low cost ways.


Best Regards,


John Di Saia MD

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Deflating Saline implants

One of the advantages of saline implants is the ability to deflate them at any time.  Some women gain weight and breast size and no longer need or want the implants.  After pregnancy the tissue can stretch and cause ptosis (droopiness), or long term insertion of implants can stretch the tissues and lead to ptosis.  These are all valid reasons to have the implants deflated.

Deflating the implants is very easy and done in an office setting with just a drop of local anesthetic.  It takes about 5 minutes per side, with no pain or down time.  A needle is placed through the skin into the implant after the skin has been numbed and then hooked to a suction machine via a tube and VIOLA! your implant is empty.

Of course, you can leave the implant bags in place, they do no harm.  If you want you can have them surgically removed, but you don't have to.  Many women wait 4-6 weeks for the tissues to settle and re-evaluate for a possible lift procedure.  You can then take the bags out and perform a lift if you need one.  You can even have new implants placed if desired.  I perform at least one deflation a week and have not had any problems with infection or recovery.

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Deflation vs. removal of impant

First, please do not try this on your own at home.  You could introduce bacteria into a pocket with a foreign body and have a mess on your hands.  I would recommend having them both removed. If given the choice it is usually better to remove a foreign body that is not of benefit to you.  It is usually a straight forward procedure, but should still be done in a clean environment by your plastic surgeon.

Jeffrey Roth, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Deflation of breast implants

Although it sounds easy enough (just deflate the implant yourself), it is NOT recommended. You could cause more problems for yourself.  Go see a certified surgeon and discuss this procedure. It is not a difficult procedure for someone to do but when a certified surgeon does it, you will more likely  reduce the potential risks associated with any surgical procedure.

Ok to intentionally deflate saline implant

Hi Cynthia,

I sometimes deflate saline implants followed by removal within 1-2 weeks.  I do this when a patient is not sure if she will like her breast size if the implant is removed.  I have not left one in long term and it would concern me-it is possible you might develop an infection.  Secondly, the one implant might not deflate to the same degree as the other.  Then you would need surgery to correct this.  Can you tell if there is any saline left on the right side?  If there is, you would have to think about exchanging the implants because you like this size.  If it is totally deflated and you like this size, then I would remove both implants.  Very simple to do.

Tracy M. Pfeifer, MD

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Intentionally deflating saline breast implants

There are some very good answers here already. To summarize my opinion:

Your implants are too high and were either too wide or not positioned and healed properly or both. The correction for this is an open revision and replacement of both sides with implants that fit the width of your breast and are correctly positioned. 

Intentionally puncturing and even aspirating a saline implant is a simple matter and not much more involved than drawing blood from a vein but it is not advisable for any patient to do this for herself. 

Intentionally deflating the left implant is done for balancing purposes until the removal of both implants or the open revision and replacement procedure. There is no specific harm to the body by having deflated implants in place (although as mentioned they can knuckle and fold up) but there is certainly no advantage to leaving them in and the removal process is simple. The revision/replacement would be similar in magnitude to a first time procedure. I would consult a plastic surgeon experienced with dimensional sizing of implants and revisions of previously poorly sized and positioned implants. 

Scott L. Replogle, MD
Boulder Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Leaving the shells behind...

You probably have addressed this problem by now but there really isn't no harm to leaving your shells in... unless they develop pointy edges indicating the shell is pushing on your skin in an abnormal way and could lead to erosions and extrusions if nothing is done.  Having the shell deflated is no different than having the shell inflated and leaving a shell in that isn't trying to work its way out should not increase your risks at all.  Take out the shells when it is convenient for you and do it as a local office surgery procedure as it does not require an operating room.

Curtis Wong, MD
Redding Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.