Explanting After Many, Many Years - Los Alamitos, CA

This site, and all the women on it who have taken...

This site, and all the women on it who have taken the time to post their thoughts, fears, and photos, have given me the courage to do what I’ve wanted to do for the last ten years. Now 53, I’ve had implants since 1986. Holy sugar, just typing the year has given me the willies. Anyway, even from my youngest days, I had problems with body image. I was very tall, very pale with freckles, and hyper-conscious of my own gawkiness. I thought if I only had a tan, all my problems would be solved. Later, after I got married, my obsession with a tan transferred to my flat chest. My husband, a “boob man,” had been gravitating to pornography and my size 35 A was nothing to write home about. At 5’ 10”, and wanting to please him (even though he never asked me to do it), I justified the purchase of implants by rationalizing to myself that larger breasts would better fit my very tall frame. I had a modest pair of saline implants placed under the muscle. Even though I was in my mid-20s, I was naïve in my expectations. Somewhere deep in my subconscious, I thought that having bigger breasts would make me more attractive, more feminine. I went from an A-minus-ish cup to a full C. I was unaware at that time of the potential health concerns OR the future replacement needs. I don’t remember speaking to my PS about either of those issues. Of course, back in 1986, it could be that nobody knew.

What happened is that they got me more male attention. My husband was happy, yes, but everywhere we went, I got the wrong kind of looks. At the time, I accepted this as a good thing. I felt sexier because other people thought I was sexier. But I knew, deep in my own heart, that large boobs do not equate to sexiness. I felt like I lived a dual life. I spent many years at university hanging out with people involved with intellectual pursuits, but I was still stuck worrying about my physical worthiness. So depressing. In my mid-thirties I divorced, but I thought it was too late to change back to what I once was. In 1995 I began to have a problem with my left breast. I could feel the edges of the implant underneath the skin. I returned to the original surgeon and he replaced the implants with another pair of saline. These were slightly smaller and although I was still a C-cup, they were not so full. This surgery was the same as the first – drains, recovery, depression, and surrender to the inevitable. I felt somehow defined by my chest, and even though I often enjoyed having the cleavage and shape, I hated the fact that I wasn’t myself. I often despised the way I looked in photographs. My nipples were always hard, so I started to wear padded bras to hide this fact, making my chest look even larger.

Earlier this year, I started to feel a burning in the general vicinity of my left breast. I knew the implants were old, really old, but they did not look bad or ruptured. Still, I knew they would have to be replaced. I longed to remove them, but I was (and still am) so full of anxiety over the result. Should I replace them at age 53 – and then again in my 70s (can you imagine that????) – and then what if I live to be 90? Good God. I can’t even imagine a scenario where that would work for me. I hate how they feel. Like many posters, I don’t like hugging people too tightly because their general hardness is so unnatural. My longing to be rid of them is intense ……… but my fear of the possible deformity to my body is genuine.

Still, what a perfect time to do this. I’m newly single. I have a wonderful job, and friends, and family. Any love interest I meet in future will have enough life experience to be aware that love is not a matter of perceived physical perfection.

So I began to read as much as I could. I looked at all the very worst outcomes and resulting photographs. I looked at all the happy stories and the pictures of newly explanted breasts. I read and I read. I pressed “like” a lot and made a few comments. I dithered. Then I made the appointment. My original surgeon – Dr. William Aiello – is still in practice and has some excellent reviews. When I went to see him, he did not immediately press me to reconsider. He reviewed my options, checked my breasts for capsular contraction, and he agreed to do the explantation. It’s a straight explantation only, no capsule removal, and no lift. I will wait the requisite number of months to see what my poor boobs will look like before any further surgeries.

I’m scared, there’s no denying it, but if I could do it tomorrow I would. I have to wait until May 28th and lets hope I don’t start to waiver.

I owe every woman on this site a giant thank-you. So, thank you. Thank you, thank you.

Edited: 4/12/15

Pre-op visit today...........

Today I went and saw Dr. Aiello and his nurse. I have a good feeling. I really like Dr. Aiello (and the staff is extremely courteous and helpful). Next Thursday he'll perform the explantation (no replacement, no lift). He'll go through the areola, below the nipple, as to not create a new scar. I asked him about the possibility of the nipple puckering or becoming pulled in and he said "anything can happen" but he does not expect this. We talked about the possibility of a seroma, since he's not removing the capsules, and the answer is similar. My breasts are not that hardened (although they are super firm if you ask me), so I'm going to hope that any contracture is minimal. During the operation, he'll be lasering a small lipoma in my thigh and then lasering an area under my chin (a consequence of being 53). I'm certain I'll feel like a human pincushion, but I'll be pleased to get all the stuff that's been burdening me taken care of. The explant thing is the most serious and the most concerning. I'm anxious. I'm not an overly aggressive worrier, but getting the implants out and the stress about what they'll look like is getting me a bit down. When I chatted with the nurse, she said that a straight explant isn't the usual thing but she's seen more requests for it lately. I wonder if this site has helped facilitate that.

So, I'm on the health trajectory at the moment. No drinking, no fish oils, no aspirin/NSAIDS, et cetera. My anesthesia will be local/Twilight. I'll post photos afterwards.

Done: Explanted without replacement

Except for the fact that United Checker cab failed to arrive to take me to the surgeon, the surgery was uneventful. I was weirdly calm. My explant - and the removal of lipomas in my thigh, et cetera - was done under IV sedation. I felt only pulling, tugging, and the waterfall of saline as the implants were burst for removal. It was surreal to hear the doctor speak while I was under. According to the nurse (a woman of few words, I think) everything went well. I asked her if I looked deformed, and she said no - that I was just flat. Ha. I'm not sure how I feel about that answer.

Still, I'm glad to be rid of them. I haven't yet taken any of the percocet that was prescribed to me. Last night I took two Tylenol, but so far this morning I haven't needed anything. Kind of a miracle. The two BAs I went through were an absolute misery. Anyway, I'm taking Arnica pills, hoping that they help prevent bruising and swelling - but I'm not sure if they work or not.

Thank you to all the members on this site who've posted photos and information on their implant removals. Without all that, I might not have had the courage to do this. Just keep your fingers crossed that my results are not super horrible.

Two Full Days Post Op

Well, I haven't had to take even a Tylenol today. There's only the discomfort of not being able to move my arms upwards or sleep on my side. So my back and neck feel very tight. The wrap around my chest slipped a little bit and I kept having to pull it up. Probably because there's nothing under there, I thought. So I decided to bite the ol' bullet and see what I had left. Seriously, my hands were shaking. And the accompanying photos show you the results. I'm relieved that I do not have any kind of "folding" but the right nipple (my right) incision is seriously bloody. I'm not sure if that is an omen of a super bad scar or not. My post-op visit should be able to clarify this (this coming Tuesday).

I'm not going to lie, I'm seriously relieved. If the nipple incision heals properly, I'm going to give my surgeon - Dr. William Aiello - a brilliant review and all my gratitude. I'll be posting more photos as I heal, even though it's kind of tough to see them on the internet, in order to pay it forward. Every single woman on this site who has so openly shared their stories deserves all my love.

I'm glad to have the implants gone. I can't even really articulate why. I wasn't sick, I didn't suffer from auto-immune issues, it's just that I felt - year after year after year - more and more unnatural.

Third Day Post Op - Getting Smaller

First, let me never under appreciate a shower again. I used a bra of saran wrap to protect the incision sites, but I ended up having to hold it up a little to keep the protection from sliding right off. I didn't want to get any shampoo in the sutures. I'm also in no pain. It's just frustrating not to be able to use my chest muscles. I live alone, and even though my friends keep dropping off things that I should not be eating when not exercising, I still have to take care of my cats and get stuff done for work.

After the shower, I had a chance to inspect, and the results are definitely smaller and less shapely. I have sloping concavities right above each breast (I'll be a lifetime user of push-up bras, I'm sure) and there's excess skin on outer part of my left and a nice nipple dent on the right (the bloodier) nipple. This is more along the lines of what I expected to happen. You can't have implants in for twenty-five years and emerge unscathed. I also have a good ugly yellow bruise on the left side. It's probably hard to see some of this stuff because of my translucent paleness, but it's a little bit on the ugly side.

Nevertheless, I'm super happy to be explanted! If I could return to my youth, I'd slap myself upside the head for even thinking that implants were an improvement over the real thing.

Now, I've got to lose some of the thickness around my middle. I can't have my waist larger than my chest!

Fifth Day Post Op - Doing Great

Today marks five and a half day since my implant removal. I’m recovering nicely, although I suspect that despite my efforts to “relax,” I’m still doing too much. I can’t call a neighbor every time I need to lift up a grocery bag (and they’d think I was a weird diva, since I don’t look handicapped). So, I have to keep reminding myself, lift small, don’t raise the arms, don’t think you’re superwoman quite yet. Of my two cats, I’ve got one that looks like he swallowed a cannonball – and he’s giving me baleful glares since I won’t pick him up. The skinny one is thinking, ha ha ha.

Yesterday I went and saw my surgeon, Dr. Aiello, for my first post-op. He’s so great. A regular Mr. Sunshine! He says I’m doing well and that the skin will definitely tighten, although there’s no speculating about how MUCH. I discussed the worries over my poor bloodied, battle-scarred nipple. He was not concerned, simply saying that there’s a lot of dried blood there. I’m supposed to continue my “rest and healing” period. No exercise (by Jove, that’s the only thing that’s simply killing me). I can walk, but not so much that it raises the ol’ blood pressure. So, okay, I don’t want to screw up, so I’m sticking to the plan.

Next week’s appointment: removal of the steri-strips and post-operative care. This, hopefully, includes massaging, scar treatment, and genuine bras not constructed in Ace bandaging.

ALSO: I mentioned this in my original post, but forgot to mention it again. For years, I’ve had this burning sensation that attributed to my left implant. I don’t know why I put up with it – inertia, I guess. The doctor seemed to think the implant was pressing on a nerve at my initial consultation. But, guess what? Gone. No burning. Once you get accustomed to a certain pain, you forget what it was like to live without it. The lack of that odd burning is so beautiful.

I took some photos today after showering, hoping they’d suddenly get more tissue if I added water – but they’re pretty much the same just a little smaller, a little yellower from the healing bruises. I’m using iphoto on my computer so that I can get some distance. My breasts look much bigger than they are when I use my camera phone. . When I lift my arms a little, both boobs flatten out pretty quickly. The left, the one I was initially very worried about, is firmer than the right and doesn’t lay down on my chest like the other does. I think all these picayune issues will resolve in the next year. I’m not worried. I have a little band-aid over the right breast where I had a scar revision, and it looks like it’s healing well too.

I wish I could have an explant party! I’d invite ALL of you! Much love............

Post Op Numero Dos -

Well, I've been having some ambiguous times. I vacillate between happiness and a devil-may-care attitude about my aesthetic results AND a Ye-gods-what-have-I-done-to-myself feeling. I am remarkably flat. I won't use the old ironing board analogy, but maybe flat like the Kansas Plains, because there's at least prairie dog mounds to walk around. Actually, prairie dog mounds are larger than my breasts. Alas.

Additionally, my boobs are asymmetric. My right is decent-ish looking, while the left just doesn't hang right. But that's the breast with the harder implant and the burning pain. So perhaps the poor thing had the worst of it. I'm not going to lie, it'll be hard to be this small. I'm 5' 11" and even though I know that my waist is NOT as large as my chest measurement, it feels like it.

And yet, it feels good to have them gone. The trick is to learn to be content with the lot delivered to me at birth. I was an A- cup when I got the BA in the 80s, so not much has changed except for plastic surgery battle wounds. Maybe it's the effect of looking at my own photos. I'm so translucently pale and the effects of age are so noticeable that it all just makes me a tad sad. Before I decided to do this, I didn't look at myself so often. I think I need to go back to that place. I also need to return to yoga and the gym.

The steri-strips were removed by my doctor today, and everything looks good (according to him). I had an old dermatology scar revised by him - and that's the scab above my right breast. He told me to put hydrocortisone cream on the incisions twice a day for a couple of weeks. Then I can start with the Scar Away silicone scar stuff. At this point, I don't think massage is going to help me, nor do I think any "fluff" will appear. Of course, it's only been twelve day so who knows.

Two Weeks & Not Much Happening from the War Front (of my chest)

Every day is a little bit smaller, I think. I'm going to wait until next week to take any more photos because it makes me blue-ish. Anyway, I'm going to make an appointment at Nordstrom's to get a proper bra fitting as I'm not having much luck at the local shops. In the meantime, I went to Target (a low-end market/clothes chain, for those who don't live near one) and looked for something cheap to buy meantime. I tried several, decided I must be a 35A-, since the 34 was just slightly tight. When I went out from the fitting rooms to look for some 36A bras (knowing I could put them on the tightest hook) that could give me a little help. Out of all the racks, four aisles of bra selections, the store had exactly two 36A bras in unflattering styles. Amazing. So I bought another sports bra. This ain't gonna be easy.

I did throw out 11 beautiful 36 C bras after I got home.

Three Weeks & A Few Changes

I think my slight sadness over my newly small chest has finally evaporated. I still feel a little weird, but I feel better every day. I think I might be getting accustomed to my own self. My physical health has improved - although not exercising for three weeks has done some short-term damage. I returned to yoga class, but took it fairly easy. This coming Monday, which is two days from now, I'll return to the gym and begin to work back into my routine. I keep reminding myself to go slow, like a zen monk.

Time is the miracle drug. I'm not noticing much in the way of "fluffing," but the incisions are healing fairly well. I can't wait to begin the scar treatment. I'm also coming around to liking my new smaller boobs. Some of the clothes I used to wear don't look good on me anymore - but I'm viewing that as an excuse to re-vamp my wardrobe.

Last Friday I went to Nordstrom's and got fitted properly for bras. I can hardly believe that I'm a 34B. And actually, even though that's my bra size, my right breast doesn't quite fill out the cup. I purchased a silicone thing called a "cutlet" which helps fill out that side. I do NOT feel like a B, but I can't argue with success. The bras that I tried on fit fairly well (except for that one difficult, obstreperous boob). I completely advise going to get professionally fitted.

The bras have boosted my esteem a little bit. I dropped quite a chunk of change on these things, so I hope they last. I will not be able to afford going to continue my relationship with Nordstrom's, but I now know what to look for in bras.

Four Weeks & Not Much Change

I go to my last post-op appointment late this week and afterwards I may make my last post, unless my boobs do something miraculous in the coming year(s). As you can see from the photo (I'm sitting), there is not much change. I've been massaging, and because I didn't have the capsules removed, I can sometimes hear a little crackling as they move under the muscle. At least that's what I think it is. I'll definitely ask about this.

Additionally, my left breast still has a shadow of a bruise while the the incisions on the right are not healing as rapidly. Very odd. Even the little scar revision the surgeon did for me above my right breast is still very visible. I want to know if I can start scar therapy treatments now, so I'll ask him about using the Scar Away strips.

Still, neither breast has any residual pain or tenderness. It's miraculous. They feel very good, somewhat firm yet soft. I'm still getting used to being so flat. And, believe me, I'm flat. The photos make me look slightly larger than I am in genuine life. When I raise my arms, both breasts flatten out significantly, and I can really feel that happen when I'm wearing a bra and the shell of the cup deflates. I want to say that I've embraced myself 100%, but the honest fact is that when I go out, I put on a push-up bra and insert those little silicone cutlets to give me a lift.

What's more interesting is that the changes that are being made this month are mostly in my head. I went to yoga class last night and felt - for almost the first time in 25 years - free from the consciousness of having implants. I was always so aware of them before, since I knew they felt and looked unnatural.

People my age may remember that old slogan for the Dow Corporation: "Better living through Chemistry," but in my case I think better living will be achieved without a new set of scientifically improved implants.

Six Weeks: Feel Great

Not much has altered since my last post, except that the wrinkling that occurred near my right nipple when I raise my arm has disappeared. Heartening! I've been massaging with coconut oil and applying silicone strips to the incision sites daily. I think it's working. Well, it's hard to say for sure, but the scars are flatter. I have exactly zero tenderness or pain. I'm back to the gym (less weight) and to yoga.

I'm off to Eastern Europe for a couple of weeks and packing has been really fun. All the camisole tops I want! I got some pretty little numbers for dinners out, and at a size 34A/B I cannot possibly look like an aging porn star. I'm excited. I've posted some fabulously light bras I purchased on-line and my new swimsuit. I'm not a very racy person, so the suit is still somewhat conservative, but I think this is one that doesn't make me look super flat.

So, because I'm not going to be on this site for a while (as my time here is mostly done), I want to say a deep and profound thank you to all those ex-planters who went before me and paved the proverbial way back to nature. It's hard to articulate how this whole process has made me feel. Kind of wholesome, although that's not exactly the right word (which reminds me of something out of Alcott's Little Women. Purified. Better in mind and body.

If anyone ever needs me for anything - please email me through the site. Like a reformed smoker, I want everyone to be ex-planted! I'd be happy to help and share and commiserate. Likely, in a year, I'll post one last time. I love you all.
Orange County Plastic Surgeon

I'm very happy with my surgeon. I think he might have been a little surprised by my choice to explant rather than replace, but he didn't bat much of an eye after I explained myself. (I just don't want to be doing this every 10 or 15 years, et cetera). He was very honest about the possibilities, and said quite frankly that there were no guarantees about the aesthetic result. He did, however, feel for capsular contracture during my consultation before telling me he thought I should look fine. Flat, but fine. And indeed, that is exactly the best way to define my new look. Dr. Aiello has been a surgeon for a lot of years. He was my original surgeon back in the 80s - and did the revision in the 90s. I think he does excellent work, and I trust his experience and judgment. I unreservedly recommend him. After I get even more ancient and wrinkly, I would love to see him help me with my poor face. I don't want injectables - but maybe a future neck lift? The staff is very friendly and the offices I went to in Los Alamitos are modern and clean. I didn't feel babied or fawned over here (and I'm so glad, because I loathe that) but if you need a ton of attention this might not be the place for you.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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