Breast Implant Removal Recovery

Recovery? Pain? I was told by my surgeon that he could remove them under straight local. They are not ruptured. Is this true? I'm 30 years old. I had silicone 400cc breast implants placed 3 years ago. I was a fuller A cup and went up to a DD (against my wishes, I wanted a C) I'm a very active person and have hated them ever since. I do not wish to have them replaced in fear of future surgery, problems, etc. It was an unfortunate circumstance that I just want erased from my history.

Doctor Answers 40

Pain and recovery after removing implants

First, one can definitely remove implants without general anesthesia. Yes, it could be done with only "straight local", but I would say most surgeons would give some IV sedation--very light anesthesia/twighlight anesthesia--to make the procedure more comfortable. To be honest, simply injecting the anesthetic ("tumescent anesthesia") is the uncomfortable part, and is what warrants a little sedation. You definitely don't need general anesthesia (being put to sleep) for this, and I would say doing that is more risk than you need.

If you have formed capsules (scar tissue), your surgeon may want to take some extra time to remove them, to make sure you heal well, and don't form deep scars or collection of fluids. Overall, that part of the procedure depends on what the surgeon sees when they remove the implants. Still, all this can be done with very light sedation, with most of the anesthesia coming from local. 

Recovery should be pretty quick (much less than getting the implants, though still recommend special bra/wrap and modifying heavy exercise) and pain should be manageable with oral pain meds.

Overall, if you are unhappy with the augmentation, removing the implant should be an easy experience and I hope you are able to do it, and are pleased with your results. 

Implant Removal Can Be Done With Local Anesthesia

Yes, you can remove implants with just local anesthesia, and return to work immediately.

Expert opinion does vary on the need for removing the capsule (capsulectomy) at the time of implant removal (explantation). Capsulectomy s done to make sure the space created for the implant will seal closed after removal.  If it does not, fluid (serum) can accumulate in the space, creating breast fullness, asymmetry, and even the feeling of fluid moving in the pocket.

Capsulectomy would better be performed with sedation (or general anesthesia) for your comfort.  The use of drains for about a week is common with capsulectomy.  Your return to work depends on your surgeon's counsel in this regard.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 31 reviews


The peer reviewed literature in plastic surgery recommends removal of the entire capsule in order to avoid problems such as infection, fluid collection, and problems with cancer detection.  Also the pocket of scar tissue does not dissolve over time (it may shrink in size but is there years after implant removal). 

Susan Kolb, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

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Can Implant Removal be done with Local Anesthesia

The answer is "may be". If you do not need a capsulectomy, they can be removed under local anesthesia with minimal pain and recovery. If you need a capsulectomy, the procedure would have to be done under general anesthesia with a more extensive surgery, drains, and recovery.

Lu-Jean Feng, MD
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Implant removal with local anesthesia

Breast implant removal under local anesthesia is a very simple procedure for the surgeon and the patient.  Virtually painless during and after.

Having had 400 cc implants for 3 years there will be stretch of the overlying tissue.  You may consider asking your plastic surgeon if you are a candidate for internally supporting and lifting the breast.  This involves suturing the implant pocket closed while lifting the nipple and breast.  This can be easily done with local anesthesia as well if you wish.

York J. Yates, MD - Utah.

York Jay Yates, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews


Silicone implants that are not ruptured may be easily removed under local anesthesia.

The recovery does not compare at all to the initial augmentation surgery (if the capsule is left behind).  The surgery is less invasive (again if the capsule is left behind)

The pain is related to the extent of the surgery carried out:

  • minimal pain if the capsule is left behind.

Note that if the capsule is contracted, deformed and very adherent to the surrounding tissues or if the silicone implants are ruptured, the surgery may be quite uncomfortable or very difficult for you and / or the surgeon if carried out with only local anesthesia.


Dr. Carlos Cordoba
Plastic & Esthetic Surgeon
4055 Ste-Catherine O. Suite 100
Montreal, QC. Canada H3Z 3J8

Keep in mind that you may require additional surgery such as a breast lift post implant removal, so you may require a little more than only local anesthesia

Carlos Cordoba, MD
Montreal Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Breast augmentation reversal is easy with local anesthesia alone.

It will take about 10 minutes to remove your old implants under local anesthesia.  It's too bad you paid for something you really didn't want.  Most patients love breast augmentation.  In spite of the money wasted, the procedure can be reversed easily.  Most of the time the breasts look very much like they did before augmentation so mastopexy is usually not necessary.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Implant removal under local anesthesia

Hi, thanks for your question. 
Implants can be safely removed under local anesthesia. Typically, this can be done with minimal pain, and you can return to work the next day. 

There are times when the capsule, which forms around the implant, needs to be removed. Talk to your surgeon about this. If the capsule around the implant needs to be removed, that should be done under a general anesthetic.Best wishes!Dr. BlaggAustin, TX

Breast implant removal recovery

A simple explantation of an unruptured silicone implant usually has minimal pain associated with the procedure. I would expect a recovery of 2-3 days. If a capsulectomy has to be performed, then I would expect a one week recovery secondary to the bruising and swelling. I do not perform these procedure under local. I prefer a hospital setting with general anesthesia to minimize patient discomfort, muscle spasm,  and bacterial contamination.

Recovery Time After Breast Implant Removal

This is a simple procedure and can be done under local anesthesia or intravenous sedation. The recovery is very quick and most patients return to work within 1-3 days.

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.