Breast implant complications are common. Based on studies conducted by implant companies, the FDA concluded that between 20-40% of augmentation patients required at least one additional implant surgery within 8-10 years1. These revision surgeries often cost as much as the initial surgery, if not more. Revision surgeries might involve replacing implants or correcting the visual appearance of breast implants. Since many women dropped out of the implant companies’ studies, the proportion of women needing additional surgery could be much higher. You can read more about possible breast implant complications here.
If problems with your breast implants are bad enough or can’t be fixed, it may be necessary to remove your implants.
In 2016, the average surgeon’s fee for removal of breast implants was $2,506 but that does not include all the costs of surgery2. Our review of various plastic surgery websites revealed that the total average cost for breast implant removal is $5,000-$7,000. You can expect to pay an additional $2,500-$3,500 if you choose to replace your implants or about $5,000 if you choose to have a breast lift. A breast lift is a one-time expense but the replacement implants are likely to need to be replaced in later years. The cost of removal varies by surgeon, geographic region, and the complexity of the procedure.
Implant companies admit that breast implants will not last a lifetime. When saline implants leak, it is obvious because they deflate quickly, so the breast looks smaller. When silicone gel breast implants leak, there often are no symptoms at first. Silicone can leak out of the hole in the implant and travel to parts of the body where surgeons can’t remove it. Leaking silicone could cause pain, burning, and allergic or autoimmune reactions. These symptoms may result in additional medical costs. Removal of breast implants can be very expensive, especially if they are leaking silicone gel. In fact, some patients have reported paying $20,000 or more.
Due to concerns about leaking silicone, the FDA recommends that women with silicone gel breast implants get an MRI to check for leakage after 3 years — and then every other year after that. Unfortunately, a breast MRI costs about $2,000, and sometimes more. Though the MRI scan is expensive, it is the most accurate way to know if your implants are leaking. Your insurance plan might not cover things like an MRI or consultations with your doctor, so expect to pay for it yourself. If they are leaking, it is important to have them removed as soon as possible. You can read more about removing breast implants here.
Some insurance companies do not cover the costs of removal if your implants were placed for cosmetic reasons. Insurance plans that do cover removal require that patients prove that explant surgery is medically necessary. Symptoms that are considered medically necessary reasons for breast implant removal include rupture, capsular contracture (Baker level III or IV), infection, and chronic pain. You will also need a doctor to advocate for you and communicate to your insurance company that removal is medically necessary. You can read more about trying to get insurance coverage for your breast implant removal here.
All articles are reviewed and approved by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, and other senior staff.
- Food and Drug Administration. Breast Implants: Local Complications and Adverse Outcomes. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/UCM548169.pdf
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Breast augmentation cost. Retrieved December 20, 2017, from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/breast-augmentation/cost