Here's Why Women Are Removing Their Breast Implants

3 Jul 2014 at 9:00am

Why Women Are Removing Their Breast ImplantsIt’s July 4th (yes, already!) and what better way to celebrate Independence Day than to put the spotlight on women who’ve exercised the freedom to remove their unwanted breast implants. Stars like Victoria Beckham, Mariel Hemingway, and Sharon Osbourne have opened up the dialogue around implant removal. RealSelf member mamakas6, 46, describes the feeling after removing the implants she had for nearly 20 years: “I, as many others on here have confessed, haven't felt this good (emotionally & physically) since I was in my 20s!” RealSelfer Naturalmama88 agrees, “LIBERATION!! That’s the word that best describes the way I feel right now!”

RealSelf doctor Dr. Lavinia Chong shares six intriguing facts you need to know about why women are choosing to remove their implants. The Orange County plastic surgeon performed roughly 28 breast implant removal surgeries in 2013, and has so far done 10 sets in 2014. The RealSelf explant community has grown by 27% over the last year, with the procedure earning a whopping 98% Worth It rating.

1. Age is not a factor when it comes to breast implant removal.

Explanters are split into two main groups. The first consists of women in their late 20s and 30s who have their implants removed because they "never made friends" with them. The second group is made up of women in their late 40s and 50s who explant because their breasts become droopy and matronly.

2. Women may not be explanting for the reasons you think.

The younger demographic tends to explant quickly, while middle-aged patients explant after complications like deflation and capsular contracture (when the breast is hard, painful, and/or looks abnormal). Older patients explant after nonsurgical means fail (i.e. wearing minimizer bras, weight reduction) and their motivation to keep them drops significantly.

RealSelfer sbella13 sums up her experience with implants nicely: “Even with the bad, they have taught me self-awareness, self-love, growth from ego and other false ideals. So much has come to fruition in my life because of my implants. :) With that being said... I'm not sad to see them go!”

Other general reasons to remove implants include:
  • The upkeep is too costly
  • They cause intolerable shoulder, chest, and back pain
  • An unwanted and unexpected breast growth appeared after menopause
  • A medical condition might make future upkeep and surgeries difficult
  • The implants make you appear heavier than you are

3. Younger women who get breast augmentation may sense a loss of control

Dr. Chong has a few hypotheses on why younger women explant so quickly, “[They are similar] to reformed smokers, in that 24- to 34-year-old explant patients are more emotionally distressed about having made an error in judgement [...] or experienced a loss of control in their decision.”In other words, some may have been up-sold to larger sizes or were never even involved in sizing. Also, some think that if they remove their breast implants early, their breast volume and elasticity won’t be irreparably altered and therefore won’t require additional treatments. Explanting quickly also means you don’t become too attached to the shape, size, and volume of your augmented breasts.

5. Big breasts are bad news for the physically active.

Many women find that large breasts interfere with physical activity. Not only can they affect range of motion in the arms during sports like golf and paddleboarding, but they also have the tendency to slow you down.

RealSelfer lovetheskinyouarein is in the process of scheduling her explant for a number of reasons, including being too embarrassed to attend Pilates classes because her “rocks don't flatten out” when she stretches. “Can anyone relate to boulders in the way when hugging?” she asks.

5. Women like to have options.

High-tech bras and higher profile implants (as well as the re-introduction of silicone gel implants) have given women more options than ever. A product like the Triple Boost Ultimate Cleavage Bra promises to add three cup sizes to your appearance. The bonus of this is that you can still go au naturel when the occasion calls for it (like going braless in a low-cut dress, perhaps). DDDs are difficult to camouflage and can limit your options when it comes to clothing.

6. Aesthetic ideals have changed since the ‘90s.

Aesthetics Have ChangedLarge-breasted stars like Anna Nicole Smith and Pamela Lee Anderson have been replaced by celebrities with smaller cup sizes — most recently Iggy Azalea and her #fashiont*ts campaign. Even Playboy centerfolds have been selected for more shapely, smaller breasts.

While following a fashion trend might lead to embarrassing photos, following a body trend can have a much more complex set of implications. Of her own “LARGE” implants, Sbella confessed to the RealSelf community that she “happened to get them when Pamela Anderson was a huge icon, and I always felt bottom-heavy due to having hips. Boy, do I wish I knew then what I know now :)”

Why Plastic Surgeons Might Discourage You From Removing Your Implants

RealSelfer Want2Littles described her consultation experience with the community: “I met with three known surgeons and all were like, ‘You sure you don't want to replace?’ Ummmm, NO!!! I have a capsulated breast that will most likely come back.” Others within our explant community have similar stories. Dr. Chong explains several reasons for why plastic surgeons may discourage their patients from explanting:

1. They worry that you won’t be happy with the way your breasts look post-removal, which could include the loss of volume and skin elasticity.
2. If they haven’t performed many of these procedures in the past, they may not feel comfortable with reconstructive techniques such as mastopexy and/or fat grafting.
3. They may feel offended that their original work isn't deemed satisfactory. “Although I try to send women back to their original surgeons, many refuse,” says Dr. Chong. “They feel that they will be discouraged, ridiculed, or intimidated.”

Keep these in mind if you’re considering explantation. Make sure the decision is yours and not your doctor’s. The surgeon you choose should have a lot of experience with the procedure and be openly available to manage your physical and psychological aftercare.

Photo credits:
Courtesy of sbella13; Courtesy of Dr. Amy T. Bandy; Courtesy of midgetswithguns; Gavin Bond/Courtesy of Complex Magazine