How Will my Breasts Look if I Choose to Have the Implants Removed?

if i decide to get breast implants, what happens should i decide to not get replacements in case the implant needs to be removed (e.g. rupture). Does my breast tissue stay permanently stretched out? Will my original breast tissue and shape recover? I'm in my mid-40's

Doctor Answers 7

Breasts after implant removal

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Larger implants that stay in longer will cause the tissues to stretch, leaving you with a higher risk of sagging. Your breasts may return to their original shape, but it is difficult to predict what will happen.

How Will my Breasts Look if I Choose to Have the Implants Removed?

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Thank you for the question but online consultants, without the benefit of in person examination, will not be of much specific help to you.

What your breasts will look like after explantation  depends on several factors such as: the quality of skin elasticity (the better the elasticity the better the skin will bounce back),  the size of the implants used (the larger the implant the more trouble you may have with redundant skin), and the amount of breast tissue present at this time (which may have changed since the time of your breast augmentation). 

Life experience since your breast augmentation procedure, such as pregnancy or weight gain weight loss, will  potentially influence the factors discussed above. If you take these factors into consideration and apply them  to your specific circumstances you may get a good idea of what to expect after the implants are removed.
Consulting with a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeons in person may be helpful.  The attached link may also be helpful.
Best wishes.

Implant removal

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If you have implants removed and not replaced, a lot of factors will determine how the breasts will look, This includes how long they were in for, how large the implants were, and how much native breast tissue you have.  More than likely if they wre in for a long time, the tissues will remain stretched somwhat, but I couldn;t be sure without more info and an exam.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

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Breasts will look different after implant removal

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In my experience, your breasts will look less youthful, wider, and less projecting after removal of implants that have been in for many years. We saw this in the 90's when many women became scared of their silicone gel implants. They wanted to avoid or treat gel leakage, and were influenced by media hype.

Currently, most women choose to have their implants replaced when leakage occurs. Leakage of saline is easily diagnosed (you can tell within hours or days) and easily treated by replacing a similar implant in the same pocket. This is less involved than initial placement surgery. Silicone gel leakage presents a different situation. Diagnosis may require MRI testing or may show up by extra-capsular spread on mammogram (this is a late finding). Gel replacement generally should include capsulectomy, and may be more involved than initial placement surgery.

Occasionally, we see women who have gained breast size over years since augmentation and now want to be smaller. In that situation, the recommended procedure is often implant removal and breast lift (mastopexy).

The majority of women we see that experience an implant deflation enjoy their augmentation and want to continue enjoying it. They choose replacement with similar implants. It's good that you are considering all factors in your decision to have breast augmentation. Don't let this discourage you if you are otherwise confident.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon

There are many factors to consider

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Once an implant is placed it will change your tissues in variable ways. In other words, if you chose a larger implant, if your tissues are lax already, i,.e. you have some stretch marrks, etc., these changes will persist if the implants are removed.

I have cared for a few patients who had implants placed over a decde previously and they oprted to have them removed because their breasts had changed over time.

In my few patients, they were happy with their breasts and did not request a breast lift although this was discussed at length prior to surgery.

Discuss these concerns with the plastic surgeon who you chose to take care of you.

Best of luck.

Dr Edwards

Hard to say because of so many variables

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In general, most patients who elect to have breast implants removed and not replaced, are okay with their appearance. They have been appropriated counseled beforehand of what to expect with explantation. Typically the breasts appear deflated and have some droop. However, the bigger the implants and the more the skin has lost its elasticity, the worse the appearance after explanation.

If the appearance is unacceptable to you, a mastopexy (lift) to reduce the skin and lift the breasts is a reasonable option.

That being said, in my experience, only a handful of women have elected to remove and not replace their implants.

Appearance of breasts after implant removal

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There are so many factors that will effect the ultimate outcome and appearance of your breasts following implant removal. These include:

  1. Age (yes, over 40 does mean less elasticity/contractility than a 25 year old but usually more than a 60 year old)
  2. Size of implant
  3. Number of years implant is in place
  4. Over or under the muscle placement
  5. Length and duration of nursing while implants are in place
  6. Natural volume of breast tissue

In summary, it is my experience that If you go with a conservative volume implant (that is a subjective and not objective term) relative to your breast tissue, it is likely that you will have some loss of upper fullness with implatnt removal but not a drastic amount of sag (ptosis).

I have prepared a video on youtube (link below) in which I show the consequences of two patients who have undergone implants removal:

  1. Scroll to 1 min into the video and you will see a 40 year old who underwent implant removal 1 year after placement. I do not have the pre implant photos because the augmentation was performed elsewhere and the patient preferred to have me remove the implant rather than the initial surgeon.
  2. Scroll to 1 min 30 sec into the video and the second patient is a 42 year old who had implants in place for 20 years.

I hope that helps to answer your question.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 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.