Is it safe to have saline implants drained before explant?

I have read about many women having their implants drained prior to explant. Is this safe? Are there risks? What are the benefits?

Doctor Answers 10

Drain saline implants first.

This is a procedure that never made sense to me. I do not recommend this at all. If you have saline implants and want the implants removed, then just have the implants removed and the saline can be drained at that time to make the implant removal easier.  This procedure I often will do under straight local anesthesia.  IMO to leave an empty shell of a saline implant after the saline has been percutaneously drained is asking for trouble and the main trouble I would be concerned about is infection.  Hope this helps. 
Dr Vasisht

Voorhees Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Is it safe to deflate saline implants before explantation?

Not only is it safe, I would highly recommend deflating them in the office prior to surgery. Doing so a few weeks before surgery allows the surgeon and patient to decide which procedure would give optimal results. In-office deflation allows the skin time to retract which gives the patient a more realistic idea of what the breasts will look like without implants (if you are planning on explantation only). At that time, it may be decided that you need a lift, or that you do want to have the implants replaced after all. If you do want to replace the implants, it is beneficial in planning what implant volume/profile will be needed. The risks are minimal and the only real downside to this is that you will have deflated breasts for a few weeks, but this can be camouflaged in clothing.

Ashley Gordon, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Safe to have saline implants drained before explant?

Yes, in office breast implant deflation is safe and can be a good tool for certain patients.  Risks are minimal.   I hope this, and the attached link, helps. Best wishes.

Deflating saline implants

When patients have had implants for a long period of time it can be difficult for them to have any idea what they will look like when the implants are removed. They certainly won't look like they did before their first operation. Deflating the implants (I require some form of documentation to confirm that they are saline if I did not do the initial surgery) allows both the patient and the surgeon to have a good idea what the natural tissue will look like. There are certainly more options available rather that just removing the implants. They can be downsized, a lift or mastopexy can be done, or fat transfer can be planned to replace a small amount of volume. It is better if you can discuss these options before the removal, rather than after. That way, it you don't like what things look like with the implants deflated you can develop a better game plan.
The procedure is very simple, and the edges of the deflated saline implants can be a little uncomfortable with folds poking you on the inside, but it is not anything major. There is always the possibility that bacteria or fungus has grown in the saline, but I have only heard one surgeon describe this as being a significant risk (it is kind of her unique niche and not something other surgeons have typically recognized). I think the benefits are there if the surgeon is unsure your result will be adequate with just removal. If you have a nice shape, a fair amount of your own tissue, and your implants aren't really big, it probably isn't important. If your surgeon is recommending it, they may want a preview of your result to be sure you will both be happy with the expected outcome.
Best of luck,

Stacey Folk, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Safe and necessary

My advice is since they are saline, have them deflated in clinic. I do this all the time for my patients. You can numb up the skin and insert a needle attached to a suction canister and remove the saline from the implant. This allows your breast to start the process of skin retraction and can better estimate what your shape and size will be once you remove the implants. This lets us know if you might need a breast lift to help your shape and breast appearance. It is really a valuable tool that I use. Allow 6 weeks-3 months after deflation before you have your formal surgery done. Hope this helps!


Deflation of a saline implant before implant removal

The purpose of implant deflation is to allow your breast tissue to contract or shrink prior to the next surgery. If you are having your implants removed only without a lift or new implants there is probably no benefit to it. It is best you discuss your concerns with your board-certified plastic surgeon.

Dr. Edwards

Draining saline implants before explantation

I actually prefer to do so.  I drain about 3 days before surgery.  It is done under local anesthesia, doesn't hurt. Once the implant volume is removed, the volume of the native breast tissue can be assessed (shape, asymmetry).  We then proceed with sizers to get an idea what the new implant volume will be.  I haven't had any complaints.  And it has reduced the anxiety of "guessing" what the natural breast tissue is.  Therefore, better outcomes. 

Please make an in-person consultation with a ABPS board certified PS to evaluate you and discuss your options.
Hope that helps and best wishes!
Dr. Morales
ABPS Board Certified
Houston, Tx

Rolando Morales Jr, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Deflating saline implants

Good question.
Deflating saline implants can be a great tool. It's simple, not painful, and can be done in the office .It's very safe.
If you're certain that you want your implants out and do not want new ones, you may not need to take the step of deflating and could simply have the implants removed.

If you're not sure if you want new implants or not, you're not sure how much breast tissue you really have, or are on the fence about other breast procedures, it may make sense to deflate. It also makes sense to deflate if you plan to have new implants but want to downsize. Deflating will help the pocket shrink so new implants aren't sloshing around too much.

After deflation, the breasts often look a little funny, but over the next few weeks, the tissue remodels and you'll have a much better idea of how your breasts look without implants. Some women then choose to get new implants or fat grafting, while lots of others realize that they're OK with the size and shape and decide not to have more implants. At that point, the empty envelopes can be removed with a minor office procedure.

Best wishes-

Saline Implants - drainage before implant

Thank you for asking about your breast implants.
  • Removing saline from your implants makes sense - if there is a good reason to do it.
  • Most often, one implant deflated, the other is full but the woman can't have implants exchanged immediately.
  • Another reason - the woman wants different sized implants, but doesn't know what size she has.
  • It is usually better not to deflate an implant - because the pocket around it will start to shrink - so more extensive surgery is needed when the implants are replaced.
  • The chief risk of deflation is introducing infection into the implant.
Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Best wishes - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Draining saline implants prior to exchange/removal

Thanks for your question! It is very easy and safe to drain saline implants in the office. The only risk would be introducing infection into the implant space if the needle or skin were not sterile. 

There are many benefits: 
1. Often woman don't know what size implant they have, or they are unsure how much they want to increase/decrease implant size after surgery. Once the implants have been drained it is very easy to figure out what size implant we want to put back in. 
2. When women want to decrease the size of their implants, draining them before surgery helps to discover how the skin will respond after the implant size reduction (e.g. will a lift be necessary)
3. After the implant is drained the capsule will decrease size (contract) over time. This is very useful when downsizing implants, because less suturing will be needed to decrease the capsule size. 

Hope that helps!

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.