Normal Looking Breasts After Explant Surgery?

I have had saline breast implants for 8 years and am scared of the aesthetic outcome should I have them removed. I am 29 years old, I have very little breast tissue and stretch marks on my breasts from having a baby. I have constant aches and pains in my left breast. I have considered get revision surgery, but what I really want is them to be taken out. I have been researching this for a year now and would really like some advice (especially when it comes to finding the right surgeon to remove them).

Doctor Answers 39

Do I need a lift after removing implants

It is not uncommon for plastic surgeons to stage or separate these operations.

No one can predict for sure, how your breasts will look after downsizing.

It may depend on the size of your implant. Removing a 200cc implant is very different than removing a 600cc implant.

Let me offer an analogy which may help to explain:

If you look closely at your friends or women after the health club, you will see a variety of different looking stomachs following pregnancy. I have seen women who have had 3 children have an absolutely flat stomach that is more attractive than many 20 year olds. And I have seen women with one pregnancy who have had stretch marks extend over their entire stomach after one child. Do you think you could predict this before having their first child?

After you "deliver" the currentl implant from your breast, it will be difficult to predict the contraction of your breast skin.

Therefore you can pre-emptively perform a breast lift or wait and see what will be required at a later date. Obviously, I understand the inconvenience of a two stage operation but if you want to do all you can to minimize scarring this may be your best result. I have been impressed, in my personal experience, that after removing implants that have been in place for over 20-30 years, the skin will contract better than I would have predicted. Of course, it may look as if they had some loss of upper fullness but they appear age appropriate for a 50-60 year old. This is just one surgeon's opinion so take it for what it is worth. This is an artistic as well as a medical judgement.

I hope this helps.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Approach to breast implant removal

If your implants are removed, you are probably concerned about the sagginess of the breast tissue that may remain afterward. This is a legitimate concern.  There is a way to potentially minimize your need for a lift or the type of lift you may require. One way is to have your implants deflated (with a needle/syringe) by your plastic surgeon in the office. This will allow the soft tissue and skin to contract, which will give you a good idea of how much actual breast tissue you have.  Then, 6-9 months later, you can have your implants removed and since the skin/tissue will have had a chance to shrink,you may not need a lift or at least, the type of lift you need may be minimized.  Either way, you can accomplish removing your implants and/or lifting your breasts with one trip to the operating room, instead of two.

Consult with a board certified plastic surgeon prior to your implant removal.

Best wishes,


William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 377 reviews

Implant removal

Many women have the same concern about having implants removed that you do.  They are worried what the breasts will look like.  In my experience, they usually look like they did before the implants were placed, and not at all like the disaster you picture I your mind.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

You can have nice outcomes after implant removal

Many people elect to have their implants removed at some point in their lives, and your question is a common and excellent one.  Two of the primary questions that my patients voice to me preceding implant removal is how much breast tissue they will have without their implants and what their breast shape will look like.  

These questions are much easier to answer when a person has saline implants, like yourself.  When that is the case, it is possible to rupture the implant percutaneously (without a major surgery).  This removes the fluid from the implant and allows you to see the volume of breast tissue that you naturally possess.  It is also remarkable how much your breast and skin may rebound from the stretching by your implant.  It takes 3-4 weeks to see what your breast will look like without  your implant after the rupturing procedure has been performed.  

You can then meet with you surgeon, assess your breast aesthetics without the implant in place, and decide how you want to proceed.  Some patients are perfectly happy with their natural breast after it has recovered and simply wish to have their implant removed.  Others find that they may want a smaller implant.  Yet others decide that they want a lift to restore a perkier contour to their breast.  These are individual decisions, but decisions that are much easier to make when you truly can see what your natural starting point is.

Emily A. Williams, MD
Spokane Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Do I need a lift after removing breast implants?

There are several factors that determine the result of a breast implant removal. Your skin could stretch back under several conditions: (1) if your breast tissue did not decrease over the 8 year period from your original breasts; (2) if your pectorals major muscle maintained its bulk; (3) if your pectorals major was not cut during insertion; (4) or if it was cut during insertion, it was repaired successfully after explantation; (5) if your rib contour was not altered by the implants. In other words, your skin has to be supported by adequate volume in the breast. In general, breasts with sub pectoral implants tend to do better than sub glandular implants after explantation, because the breast tissue is less stretched by the implants. Breasts that had no contracture tend to do better. Your question is a good one but complicated to answer.

Lu-Jean Feng, MD
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 92 reviews


Pain around a breast implant is usually infection that requires explantation and culture specific antibiotics.  It is important that the entire capsule be removed, or the pain can persist as the biofilm continues to be a problem in the retained capsule.  Antifungals are also usually needed due to the biofilm containing mold as well.  Breast lifts are usually needed if you have implants larger than 300cc, poorly defined submammary folds after explantation, nipple areolar complexes that are low, or excess skin that does not contract.  The internal lift does a good job of shaping a breast and making a decent fold, and can also correct dents in some cases.

Susan Kolb, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Explantation May Not Alleviate Symptoms

All your concerns need to be addresed; this would be best done in face-to-face consultation with your plastic surgeon:

  • It is important to evaluate the cause of your pain; explantation may not necessarily alleviate your pain.
  • Stretch marks my not change in appearance after explantation.
  • In addition to loss of fullness, you may have drooping,  after explantation

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Breast shape after explantation

If you are planning on having your implants removed permanently, you may need to have the following done:

1) Implant removal;

2) Capsule removal;

3) Breast lift.

Without examining you, it is difficult to say which of these you will require. Some patients will require all three. Some patients can avoid a mastopexy (breast lift) by allowing their surgeon to remove the implants and capsules and wait. In certain situations, the skin envelope may tighten up over time. However, be prepared to possible need a second operation to lift the breast back to an aesthetically pleasing position.

Kevin Brenner, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Removing your implants

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.
Occasionally, I see patients who just want the implants removed because they don't want the implants "to be a part of them" anymore.  Make sure you think about this and that this is the right thing for you.  It's difficult to say if you need a lift after removal -- no one will know exactly what your breasts will look like after the implants are removed until it is done.  Talk to a well-trained and experienced board-certified plastic surgeon and get good advice.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Normal looking breasts after removal

If you are having pain associate with the implant, I would certainly support your decision to have them removed without a replacement. It is difficult to anticipate the size and shape of your breast after an explanation. The larger the implant, the more skin laxity and/or ptosis you will have after the explantation. Discuss with a plastic surgeon to help guide you through this process.

Robert Najera, MD
Frisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 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.