Women who have implants sometimes decide to have them removed because of complications, disappointment with how they look or feel, or concern about the long-term health risks. Some surgeons discourage patients from removing their implants. This may be because they don’t share the patient’s concerns, or because they believe that patients will be very unhappy with their appearance after the implant is removed.
The plastic surgeon who performed the original surgery is often not the best choice for removing implants. Removal can be much more complicated and expensive than the original surgery, especially after a silicone gel implant has broken. Some plastic surgeons are very experienced at removal and are especially skilled at getting the best possible cosmetic result.
It is essential to choose a plastic surgeon who specializes in removal. He or she will probably want to remove the implants “en bloc,” which means that the implant and the intact scar tissue capsule surrounding it are all removed together. This helps remove any silicone that may have leaked from a broken gel implant, and also helps remove silicone or other chemicals that may have “bled” from the silicone outer envelope of a saline or silicone breast implant.
If the implant is removed from a healthy breast, ideally the plastic surgeon will also do a breast lift at the same time, so that the breast will not be saggy.
It is important to remove ruptured silicone gel implants as quickly as possible. Women with ruptured silicone implants often lose breast tissue as part of the removal surgery, and the longer the implants are leaking, the more breast tissue the woman is likely to lose. If silicone has leaked into the breast tissue, the resulting removal surgery may be similar to a mastectomy. (See photo below.) You can avoid that if you have your leaking silicone gel implants removed en bloc and before they leak a lot.
The comments and statements of the National Center for Health Research are believed and intended to be accurate, and where applicable, based on scientific literature. NCHR’s statements do not constitute medical diagnoses, medical advice, plans of treatment, or legal opinion, and we are not responsible for the use or application of this information. All medical information should be reviewed with your health care practitioner.
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All articles are reviewed and approved by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, and other senior staff.