Breast implant removal, also known as “explantation” is a surgical procedure for women who have decided that they do not want to have breast implants anymore. There are a variety of reasons why someone would choose to have this procedure. A woman may possess physical reasons for which she seeks explantation such as capsular contracture (hardening of the tissue envelope that surrounding the implant) with distortion, implant malposition in an undesired location, visible rippling particularly with saline implants, gradual downward droop especially if post-partum laxity or ageing have decreased the internal support structures and sensory disorders such as painful breasts. Other issues that are associated with a desire to have explantation are a suspicion of the relationship between breast implants and physical diseases such as fibromyalgia and other connective tissue problems.
What is involved? Explantation requires that an incision be made through which the implant pocket can be accessed. If the initial surgery placed the incision on the lower part of the breast, then this would be the ideal place to incise for implant removal. For a thorough explantation to take place, all implant material should be removed, especially if the device has ruptured. The capsule of tissue which surrounds the implant should be removed as well, at least in so far as it can be cut out without harming adjacent structures. A concerted effort will be made to make sure that the pocket closes down and seals up. If the implants were originally placed under the muscle, then it should be reattached to the ribcage from which it was originally released. A surgical drain may be required after explantation to help assure that the pocket seals up quickly. Most women do not experience as much pain after explantation compared to the amount experienced at the time of the original surgery to place the implants. This type of operation can usually be performed as an outpatient: you won’t have to stay overnight and, if healthy, you can be discharged to home after the operation.
Do you want to have explantation of your breast implants? Would you like to determine if the implants should be removed? During your consultation with Dr. Grenga, you’ll be asked if you wish to have new implants inserted or, whether you don’t want any new implants. You may need a breast lift if sufficient droop is anticipated as a result of explantation. It not always ideal to perform a breast lift at the same time as your explantation. In certain situations, it is better to wait about 6 months to allow any and all settling to occur before reinserting breast implants. It is very important to select a plastic surgeon who can demonstrate a significant experience with breast explantation surgery. Dr. Grenga has over 30 years’ experience with explantation and will explain your options thoroughly during your consultation. To learn what specific recommendations apply to you, please call the Chesapeake Center for Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery at 757-673-5900 or you may access our information request page by clicking contact us for information in order to schedule your explantation consultation with one of Hampton Road’s most experienced Board Certified* plastic surgeons.
(*Dr. Grenga is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He received his MD degree from the Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed a plastic surgery residency at the Cleveland Clinic. Among the areas of his professional expertise are surgery of the breast including explantation, breast augmentation, breast lift and breast reduction.)
Shown above, left: this woman desired removal of breast implants. On the right, her result after explantation and mastopexy. A lift is advisable when the breast skin is slack and the predicted result of explantation is droopy breasts. The lift can be performed at the same time as the explantation in most instances.