According to the American Society for Plastic Surgery, more than 200,000 women undergo breast augmentation surgery every year. Some of those women will find that breast implants no longer suit them or have changed their appearance in undesirable ways. In other cases, the removal procedure, or explant, is necessitated by implant leakage or breast cancer treatment. Women considering implant removal may worry about the appearance of their breasts after the procedure, when their breasts will be smaller and possibly changed by aging.
When implants are new, scar tissue forms in the area between breast tissue and implant. Removal involves not just the implants, but also the scar tissue around them. This tissue must be cut and sometimes completely removed to allow the implant to come out and to even out the remaining breast tissue. This may make breasts even smaller than they were originally. Additionally, weight loss can decrease breast size over time.
Sagging and Wrinkling of Skin
Excess skin around the implant area is a common complaint after implant removal. When implants are put in, the skin is stretched and sutured into place, allowing the skin's natural elasticity to compensate for the new, larger surface area. Over time, though, the skin's elasticity lessens. Once the implant is removed, the previously expanded skin can sag and wrinkle.
Another possible side effect of breast implant removal is breast asymmetry. Most women's breasts are not perfectly symmetrical to begin with. After breast implant removal, that asymmetrical appearance may be emphasized.
Surgical Minimizing of Effects
During the removal of implants, surgeons can remove excess skin and tissue to make the breasts smoother and more symmetrical. Many women opt for a breast lift technique that tightens skin around the incision and adds an element of lift to the breasts to prevent and correct sagging. Procedures to prevent and correct sagging are not permanent. Scarring from lift and tightening procedures can be moderate to severe, however, though plastic surgeons can help to minimize scarring through post-operative treatment.
Replacement of Implants
In some cases, women may opt for the insertion of another implant. Women removing implants due to leakage or dissatisfaction with the appearance of their current implants may choose implants made of a different material, while others may look to increase or decrease the size of their breasts.
Women undergoing changes in their breasts may be unhappy with their new appearance. Frequent consultation with the plastic surgeon is recommended, and counseling may be helpful for those having a particularly difficult time with their body image.