A woman in a green bathing suit reclining on a rock (model)

When your breasts no longer look the way you want them to, or when your implants are causing more issues than they’re worth, it may be time to start thinking about breast implant removal. Also called explant surgery or explantation, this procedure removes existing implants and gives your look a fresh start.

What is it actually like to have your breast implants removed? In this post, I’ll talk through what to expect, how long recovery takes, and why this surgery is becoming more popular every year.

Why Do Women Choose To Remove Their Breast Implants?

Before we dive into what it’s like to remove your breast implants, let’s take a look at the decision to have the surgery.

Explantation surgeries are steadily rising in popularity. There were 71,284 done in 2021, according to The Aesthetic Society. In 2016, there were 43,181. That’s about a 65% increase in just 5 years.

What is driving this increase? In part, a more open conversation about why women choose to have the surgery done and all the benefits they enjoy as a result.

Aesthetic Preference

When your preferences shift and your look no longer matches your goals, breast implant removal lets your appearance evolve along with you. As Chrissy Teigen wrote on Instagram before her 2020 explant surgery, “They’ve been great to me for many years but I’m just over it.”

Changing Bodies

Our bodies change over the years, especially when weight fluctuations or pregnancies are involved. Pamela Anderson told the New York Post in 1999, “I think after having children and nursing I felt like I was Dolly Parton for the longest time and I thought, ‘I just want my natural body back.’ “

Medical Complications

While uncommon, complications such as capsular contracture, implant rupture, and BIA-ALCL (breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma) do happen. Fortunately, removing the implants is all it takes to resolve most of these issues.

Learn more about why women choose breast implant removal in this blog post.

How Is Breast Implant Removal Done?

What actually happens during a breast implant surgery? Your surgeon may take a few different approaches depending on your unique case:

  • Implant removal: Your surgeon makes an incision in the scar capsule surrounding the implant and removes the implant, leaving the scar tissue in place.
  • Total capsulectomy: Your surgeon removes the breast implant and then all of the surrounding scar capsule.
  • En bloc capsulectomy: Your surgeon removes the breast implant and scar capsule as one cohesive unit.

Your preferences and existing scar tissue will dictate the best technique for you.

How Painful Is Breast Implant Removal?

Breast implant removal is typically performed while you are fully asleep under general anesthesia, so you should not feel a thing during the actual surgery. During recovery, however, it is normal to feel some soreness and discomfort for about a week. Your surgeon will likely prescribe pain medication, although many people switch to over-the-counter painkillers within days.

If you have a painful complication such as capsular contracture, removing your breast implants will likely provide immediate relief.

How Long Does It Take To Recover After Explant Surgery?

Most women only need a week or so away from work to recover from explant surgery. During the first couple of days, you’ll likely feel a little groggy and fatigued. Take it easy and limit your activity to short walks around the house, which will help your circulation and prevent blood clots.

After 2 weeks, you can resume exercise, beginning with light cardio and gradually working your way up to more vigorous activities. It usually takes about 6 weeks to get back to your usual workout routine.

Do Breasts Go Back To Normal After Implant Removal? Will I Need a Breast Lift?

I almost always recommend getting a breast lift after explant surgery. In most cases, women experience some degree of stretching in the breasts as the skin and tissues adjust to the volume of a breast implant. Removing those implants very often creates a deflated or sagging look most women don’t enjoy.

A breast lift, which can typically be done during your implant removal surgery, lifts and tightens tissue to give your breasts a higher, perkier, and firmer look and feel. While this is optional, I find women are much happier with their results when they include a lift with their removal.

You can see real examples of results with and without a breast lift in my before-and-after photo gallery.

Does Removing Breast Implants Leave Scars?

Breast implant removal typically uses the same incisions as your initial breast augmentation, so you won’t have any new scars. If you include a breast lift with your explantation, your surgeon may need to create an additional incision extending from your breast crease toward your nipple. This allows for further tightening and repositioning of your tissues so you get the best possible result.

Where Do I Start?

The first step in your breast implant removal journey is to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience with explants. If you would like to talk about the procedure and what breast implant removal is actually like at my Las Vegas plastic surgery practice, please request a consultation online or give me a call at (702) 450-0777 . Together, we’ll give your look a fresh start and help you rediscover the confidence you deserve.

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