Overall, there are many reasons women may want or need implant revision or replacement.
The 3 most common reasons for breast implant removal surgery are: implant leakage or rupture, capsular contracture and a change in size or shape. These reasons comprise over 70% of all implant removal surgery.
As with most medical devices, breast implants are not designed to last forever. The implants, whether saline or silicone, may leak and the woman may notice that one or both of her breasts has changed shape or size. With saline implants it usually is apparent when they leak. As the saline is absorbed by the body the breast becomes softer and smaller. With a leaking silicone gel implant this may not be noticed as quickly. In most cases, the silicone gel leaks out of the implant in the capsule or pocket and is usually self-contained. Most women can tell a subtle change in their shape while others notice nothing at all.
Some women just wish to be bigger or smaller and would like an implant exchange. Other women may not like the appearance of their implants. They feel their implants might be too high or low. Others feel that their breasts may appear too fake and not natural. Some may be experiencing implant rippling. Ripples can be present in both saline-filled or silicone gel implants.
Capsular contracture makes the breast implant feel hard, and distorts the appearance of the breast. In the later stages, the implant feels very firm, and may take on a ball-like look. Capsular contracture usually produces pain and discomfort.
Removal or Replacement of Implants
For implant removal surgery, general anaesthesia or IV sedation is typically used. An incision is made either around the areola or under the fold of the breast. The capsule around the implant is cut into and the implant is carefully removed. If the implant is silicone-filled, it is inspected for any signs of damage before removal. If the implant is filled with saline, the surgeon may choose to deflate the implant to help removal. The old implants are then replaced with new ones. The scar tissue (capsule) that was around the implant may also be removed (if the implant is not going to be replaced.
If only implants are removed, pain will be minimal. If implants and capsules are removed, the discomfort will be similar to the discomfort experienced after the initial augmentation procedure.
Breast asymmetry may occur after breast implant removal surgery if not replaced. You may be disappointed with the results of breast implant removal surgery. Additional surgery may be necessary to reshape breasts after implant removal. Some women after their breast implants have been removed will need no other breast surgeries, while others may require a breast lift. Some breast lifts may be extensive while others may be very limited. The women that require breast lifts will be left with scars on the outside of their breasts, which will heal in time.