Can Under Muscle Breast Implants be Removed Through the Armpit?

I've had saline implants (not large but not sure of size cc's) now for 20 yrs, with no problems. They went through my armpits, so there are no vissible scars. I'm looking into removing them in the near future, and wonder what my options are, and what will need to be done. I've heard that even though they went through the armpits, they need to come out the front, and there will be scaring for sure. also, if I wanted a lift later on, would there be scaring twice?

Doctor Answers 11

Breast Implant Removal via Axillary Incision

Hi Mexico8434,

There are a few issues in this case:

1) Removing the implants - in general, it is possible to remove the implants via an axillary approach.  Saline implants can be deflated (drained, or emptied) and then, reasonably simply, grasped, pulled out through the incision and removed.  If that's really all you want, or need, then it should be pretty straight-forward.  As with all procedures, the surgeon would reserve the right to make adjustments to the preoperative plan depending on what happens intraoperatively.

2)  The skin - what will you look like after the implants are removed?  This is an important question.  You cannot assume that your skin will automatically (and maybe even magically?) just shrink back to the way it was before.  If you're okay with some hanging breast tissue, which is what's most likely, then you can just go ahead and have them removed.  If not, though, you need to consider replacing them with other implants, a breast lift, or both.  You can probably have new implants inserted via the axillary approach, but if you need a lift you'll need some sort of incision around the areola, and then you might as well have the implants removed via that approach.

3)  The capsule.  Anytime there's been an implant in place for more than a few weeks (or possibly months) a capsule will form.  This is (normally) a thin layer of scar tissue that forms around a foreign body (the implant).  If you remove just the implants you'll leave this behind.  That may be okay, but if the capsule has thickened with time, you may want or need to have it removed.  That is harder to do via the axillary approach.

So, in sum, you can have the implants removed that way and if that's all you want, it's reasonable to go ahead and do it.  However, there are other things and procedures to consider with this and it is quite possible that some or all of them would require different, or additional, incisions.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Implant removal throught the same incision

Breast implants are removed through the same incision, there is no need for an additional one. Saline implants are very easily removed through the underarm approach, and your recovery should be gentle as well.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

No Need for extra incisions

Assuming the pocket is in the correct position and you are looking for a simple exchange of saline or silicone,  the axillary incision can be used.  We routinely remove and exchange silicone implants through the axillary incision.  Best of Luck


Dr Del Vecchio

Breast implants

The implants can be removed through an arm pit incision; however, the capsule will be difficult to removed without a large incision and this will result in an unsightly scar.  The best way, at this time, is an infra-mammary approach.

Shahin Javaheri, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Removing implants, armpit incision

Saline implants should be able to be removed through the armpit, but none of the capsule or scar tissue can likely be removed.  If the implants were not too large or if you have gained weight in your breast, they may not look too deflated afterward.

Implant Removal Through the Armpit

If you are looking to just have the implants removed, they can certainly be removed through the original armpit incision. Typically, though, after having implants in for as long as you have, once they are removed your breasts may look deflated as well as a bit droopy. This is a combination of the implants thinning the tissues and natural aging.  Any breast lift that you may need in the future will definitely need incisions on the breast.

Hope that helps and good luck!

Dr. Babak Dadvand

Babak Dadvand, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Most patients satisfied with transaxillary incision.

When patients have soft, pliable breasts with no evidence of capsular contracture, implant removal can be relatively simple.Under these circumstances, implants can be removed through the patient’s original transaxillary incision.The procedure involves reopening the incision and deflating the implant.The deflated implant can then be removed and the wound closed.

This procedure is associated with excellent clinical results and short recoveries.If you have saline implants and are considering implant removal, it’s important to discuss this option with your plastic surgeon.Your surgeon should be able to formulate a treatment plan that addresses your anatomic findings and achieves your aesthetic goals.

Placement of breast implants

I place almost 99% of my implants through the infra-mammary incision with minimal scarring and great results.  You may want to consider this option because it's your second surgery.

Removing implants through the axillary incision

Providing that you don't need a breast lift, or require any capsule work (capsulotomy, capsulectomy or capsule plication) , then yes, the implants can be removed through your axillary (armpit) incision.

Pretty much anything else, though, and you may need to consider an alternative approach.


All the best,

Implant removal via armpit

Placing implants through the axillary fold is a alot easier than removing them.  Especially if there is a hard capsule.  If you are looking for a lift, then you would need the surgery done on the breast.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 22 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.