Saline Implant Removal-No Lift-No Replacement - Newport Beach, CA

I got saline implants (300cc) under the muscle in...

I got saline implants (300cc) under the muscle in 1996 when I was 26 years old. I am now 43 and ready to have them out. I never liked the implants from day 1, but kept them because I had paid so much and was afraid removal would be as painful as implantation. Every day of the past 17 years I've wished I didn't have the implants, even though my natural breasts were almost nonexistent. I've looked at hundreds of before/after photos on RealSelf and haven't seen any 'before' pics that were as small as mine. Despite that fact, I would still rather have those nonexistent breasts than these large, uncomfortable balls in my chest that make me uncomfortable 24/7 and make me look heavier than I am.

When I got the implants, all I thought about was improving my breast appearance and I didn't consider how it would actually feel to have them. It doesn't feel good. I had been a college athlete and did 200 push ups/day prior to my implantation, and being physically active brought me greater joy than anything else in my life. After implantation, that all changed. The implants went under the muscle and greatly diminished my upper body strength. I could no longer play the sports I loved as well as I used to (tennis, basketball, golf, etc.) and felt self-conscious about the implants in tight workout clothes. I was certain everyone could tell I had fake breasts, and I never felt like "myself" again. After reading other women's stories on RealSelf, I now know that removal won't be at all as painful as implantation and that the majority of women who remove theirs are extremely happy with the results. That was enough to convince me that removal is the best way to go.

I had a consultation with an amazing doctor in Newport Beach yesterday, Lavinia Chong, who said that the implants could be easily removed under local anesthesia. It will not be necessary to remove the capsules or have a lift, and I will not require drains. I was ecstatic to hear that news. I only wished she could take them out at that moment. I've had them for so long and am so uncomfortable with them that it's hard to wait another day, even though I've already waited 17 years. Dr. Chong's incredibly kind, helpful assistant/receptionist, Nancy, said there was a possible opening on November 26, but she's going to call me later this week to confirm. I might be able to get in sooner if someone else cancels, or sometime in December if the November 26 slot isn't available, but she said I'll definitely get in before the end of the year. I'm very eager to get them out, but realize I need to be patient and grateful for the fact that it won't be a painful, difficult procedure. And I am! :) I'm very happy about the prospect of finally having these off of me, even though my original breasts are virtually nonexistent. I would rather have nothing than keep these any longer. There's also a chance that I'll have more breast tissue than I did in 1996 since I've gained about 10-15 pounds since then. I'm not keeping my hopes up for that, but it is possible. Honestly, how I feel is more important to me than how they ultimately look. I'm so tired of them being in the way, uncomfortable, pulling on my skin, weighing me down, making me look heavier than I am in clothes and making me feel self-conscious all the time. I'm ready to be the slim, athletic me again.

The photos I've posted show my pre-implant chest in 1996, my post-implant chest the day after I got my implants in 1996 (lots of swelling and super high), and my chest as it looked yesterday (Nov 2, 2013). None of the pics are very pretty, and I'm sure when I have them removed the post-removal photos won't be gorgeous either since I didn't start with much. But at least I'll be free and won't be fake and uncomfortable anymore. That's what's most important.

Oops!

I made a mistake in my previous post. I said Nancy is Dr. Chong's assistant/receptionist, but she's actually the patient counselor. She answered my initial questions, filled me in on what to expect and took care of the business side of things. She immediately made me feel comfortable and at ease. The overall vibe of Dr. Chong's office is very positive, welcoming and warm, and I'm glad I found her. Still waiting for confirmation of the surgery date. Will post again when I know it.

Photos-Before and After Breast Augmentation (Before Explantation)

The first three pics are of me before my breast augmentation in 1996 (age 26). I was very slim and athletic, did 200 push ups/day and had very little breast tissue.

The next three photos are how my breasts look today/2013 (age 43) -- after augmentation, before explantation.

I Have a Date!! :)

I've been going to consultations looking for a doctor who could perform my implant removal asap (this month) and I received a call from Nancy at Dr. Chong's office this morning telling me she has an opening on December 19 (next month). Like an idiot, I told her that was just too long to wait and thanked her for calling. As soon as I hung up the phone I thought, "What are you thinking?!" Dr. Chong was by far the best surgeon I've seen and I felt 100% comfortable with her and confident in her skills and knowledge during my consultation. I've had consultations with 4 other doctors and none could hold a candle to her. I promptly called back and apologized to Nancy for being so impatient and took the December 19 slot while it's still available.

Getting the surgery has been occupying my mind every day since I discovered that the procedure isn't as painful as augmentation and won't require new implants. I became obsessed with getting it done NOW, rather than choosing the right/best PS for the job. I was willing to have mediocre surgeon do it in two weeks rather than wait for a pro to do it in five weeks, and it took me a minute to realize how absurd that thinking was. Thankfully I came to my senses.

Thursday, December 19, will be my implant removal day and I couldn't be happier! I'm so glad Dr. Chong can fit me in. I know I'll be in good hands, and that kind of comfort and confidence is more than worth the wait.

Today Was The Day! So Happy!

I forgot to come here and update my surgery date to December 12 and the Real Self site will only allow me to select a surgery date after today, so it says my surgery is tomorrow (12/13) but today was the actual day (12/12). I was thrilled when Nancy, the office administrator and patient counselor, called me in mid-November to let me know that Dr. Chong could fit me in earlier than my original Dec 19 date.

Here's how it went, from beginning to end:

When I arrived for my appointment, Nancy welcomed me very warmly and I only waited a few minutes before I was taken back to the consultation room. One of Dr. Chong's assistants (I can't remember her name right now, but she was super nice and friendly) applied a topical anesthetic under each of my breasts where the local anesthesia injections and incisions would be. She answered some of my questions about what to expect and took photos of my breasts from various angles, then gave me a couple magazines to read while we waited for the topical to sink in.

I was then moved to the surgery room, which had an incredible view of the ocean, by the way. The room was a little on the chilly side, but I was very comfortable after Dr. Chong's other awesome assistant, Julie, placed warm blankets over my legs and stomach and pads over my arms and around my sides. Dr. Chong then draped a sheet over my neck area so I couldn't see the procedure itself. I had watched several videos of the procedure on YouTube, and they were kind of hard to watch for someone who's squeamish about blood and the cutting of flesh, so I totally understand why this was a necessary step.

Dr. Chong then injected each breast with local anesthesia. There was a slight pinch, then a burning sensation for a few seconds, but that was it. That was the most painful part of the procedure, and it wasn't bad at all. Before cutting into me, Dr. Chong tested each breast to see if I could feel any pain, which I couldn't. So she started with the left breast.

After opening up the left breast through a small incision near the inframammary fold, two unexpected things were discovered. The first was that the implants were actually textured, not smooth. The pamphlet my implant surgeon gave me for the implants indicated that they were smooth, so this was a surprise. Dr. Chong usually removes textured implants under general anesthesia, not local, because they attach to the tissue inside and the discomfort of dislodging them can be too much for patients. But since I was already there and the breast was already opened up, we went ahead. I didn't feel any pain with the removal, but it did feel very strange. I'm a ticklish person and it felt like someone was tickling the ribs behind my breasts with kind of a kneading motion. It was an odd feeling and she had to tug and massage it and work it from the inside and outside to get it out, but I wouldn't describe it as painful. Just weird. The valve was stuck a little bit to some of my tissue, but she pulled it off with what seemed like minimal trouble.

The second surprise on my left implant, besides the textured quality, was that my original implant surgeon had put a nylon suture in the tissue at the base of my breast for unknown reasons. I felt some tugging there while she removed the suture, but afterward she was able to slide the whole thing out. I could feel the pressure being removed from under my skin and could feel it flattening. It was another odd sensation, but it kind of felt good. Like a weight was being removed, which I guess it was. Then she sprayed a saline solution into the empty cavity to clean it out and it felt weird in its own way, but not painful at all. So she sewed up the left one and moved to the right.

The right implant came out much easier than the left. The valve wasn't stuck to anything and there was no suture on that side, so there was just the tugging and deep tickling sensation. Not bad at all. While she was sewing up my right breast, I could have sworn that I was breathing easier. Maybe it was in my mind, but I definitely felt that "light" feeling that others have referenced, and I do think that taking that weight off the ribcage makes it at least a little easier to breathe.

After Dr. Chong was done sewing me up and cleaning me off, she sat me up and put a surgical bra on me with foam pads placed directly over the areolas to aid in compression of that area since it had been distended the most by the implants. You can see the pads in the photos I've uploaded. She then wrapped Ace bandage around me to provide additional compression of the tissue. Before she wrapped me up, I saw my new natural breasts, and although they were as deflated as all the other first day surgery pics on this site, I was very happy with them and was glad to not see those big, round, bulbous implants for the first time in 17 years. It was a great feeling.

After I was wrapped up, Dr. Chong answered more of my questions, I got dressed and I was on my way home. The procedure itself took less than an hour. I didn't take valium or pain meds before the surgery since I drove there and was going to drive myself home, and I did fine without them. The discomfort was very minimal, and I attribute that to Dr. Chong's tremendous skill as a surgeon. I could tell from my consultation with her that she was extremely skilled and intelligent, and the "vibe" I got from her gave me total confidence in her abilities. My instincts were right. If you're in Southern California and are considering breast implant removal, you should definitely consider Dr. Lavinia Chong. She's an amazing plastic surgeon who completely puts you at ease, has an incredibly friendly, helpful staff, and the surgery room has an awesome, relaxing view of the ocean to boot. How can you top that? I'm so glad I found her and that she was the one to perform this very important procedure for me. I can't say enough about how great she is. She talked me through the surgery every step of the way and explained everything she was doing while she was doing it, which I appreciated. The experience was better than I could have hoped for and I was extremely happy with the results.

The best part of all is that when I arrived home and looked at myself in a full-length mirror, it was like seeing a friend I hadn't seen in 17 years. It was finally me again. My breast implants never felt like "me." From the time I got them, they always felt artificial and like they were in the way and for the first time in such a long time, I finally look and feel like my former athletic, slim self again. There were times in my life when I wished I had never gotten implants, but in a way I'm glad I did because I probably would have always wondered if I would look better with them or be happier with them. I found out that neither was true, and I know I'll never regret having them removed. I'm a thousand times happier today than the day I got the implants, and I have so much greater appreciation for my small breasts than I ever would have if I had never had them. I truly couldn't be happier.

The photos I've uploaded today are of me post-surgery after I got home with the wraps still on. I want to keep them consistently compressed for the next couple days to ensure the best outcome possible, but will upload photos of my actual breasts when I take the wraps off and take a shower on Sunday.

I want to thank all of you who have shared your stories and posted your own pics. You all helped me to make this decision, and it's the best decision I've made in 17 years. Thank you so much!

A Brief Update-2 Days Post Surgery

Yesterday was one day after my surgery and I experienced a little soreness at the incision sites, but it wasn't bad. I took a pain pill in the evening to take care of it and to help me sleep and I slept like a rock. I haven't felt any pain at all today, which is good because I really don't like taking medication of any kind. The patient counselor, Nancy, had recommended that I take a Valium the night before surgery to help me sleep in case I was anxious, but I didn't even take that. I probably should have since I ended up not getting much sleep that night, but I don't like the "fuzzy brain" that powerful meds give me. For that reason, I'm glad I only needed one pain pill for this whole process. This surgery was SO much easier than getting the implants. When I originally had them put in, it literally felt like my chest was on fire and I couldn't sit up from a lying down position on my own for a couple days. Explantation is a walk in the park by comparison.

Tomorrow I'll take a shower, wash my bra and wrappings and take pics. I pulled the bra down a little today to just briefly check them out and see what they look like, and they're even better than I expected. I was super flat chested before I got the implants and I definitely have more breast tissue there now. Not a lot, just about a handful, but that's all I really want.

I haven't been this happy in years. It feels so good not to be carrying those weights around with me everywhere I go, and I love how my shirts look now. It's nice not to have to be self-conscious about my chest anymore and to feel like myself again. It's almost Christmas, and it's the best gift I've ever given myself. So happy! :)

3 Days Post Surgery

Here are the 3 days post surgery photos I promised. They're small, but they're bigger than they were before I got implants in 1996, so I'm happy with the size. I had virtually no breast tissue at all back then, almost completely flat, so I'm surprised that I even have this much. I thought I had 300cc in each, but it turns out the left was 360cc and the right was 370cc. I think that's why the right breast looks slightly more deflated than the left. From seeing other pics on this site, I know they'll fluff up and fill out over time, so I'm not concerned about the current deflated look. I'm very happy with the results. I'll update the pics on a weekly basis so you can see the changes and progress.

8 Days Post Surgery

Here are my latest post-surgery pics (8 days post). I never realized how many freckles I have on my stomach and chest until I started taking these photos. Wow. My right nipple is still turned up a little more than my left, but it's less-so than last week and I know in time it'll even out.

I've been taking it easy, not doing upper body exercises, but I had to spend 3 hours yesterday bailing out my kitchen sink after it began filling with water from below for unknown reasons. It overflowed onto my counter tops and floor, so I had no choice but to keep bailing until a plumber could make it over to fix it. I thought my chest muscles would hurt as a result, but I only experienced very minor soreness. My shoulder muscles are actually more sore than my chest muscles.

I'll post more pics in a couple weeks so you can see the progress. Then I'll start posting on a monthly basis. Still very happy with my results and recovery. I love my smaller chest, even in its deflated, recovering state. I'm so much more comfortable and it feels good to be all natural again.
Orange County Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Lavinia Chong is an exceptionally skilled, knowledgeable, patient and kind plastic surgeon and I would recommend her without hesitation to anyone interested in cosmetic procedures in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. I could tell within minutes of my initial consultation for breast implant removal that she not only knows her stuff, but is very in touch with her patients' needs and wishes. I consulted with four other plastic surgeons in L.A. and Orange County, and she was the one who listened to me the most, answered all of my questions and took time to make sure we were on the same page regarding expectations and desired outcomes. I experienced very minimal discomfort during the procedure itself (performed under local anesthesia) and have virtually no pain now as I recover. Just a little soreness at the incision sites. Dr. Chong's staff is also amazing. The entire team is incredibly friendly and nice and they make you feel at ease and relaxed throughout the entire process. I couldn't be happier with my experience. I feel extremely lucky to have found Dr. Chong. She's head and shoulders above the rest of the plastic surgeons with whom I consulted and was more than worth the drive from Los Angeles to Newport Beach. If I ever need future cosmetic procedures, I'll definitely return to her. Really an exceptional doc.

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
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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