Sometimes, breast implant surgery does not work out. Implants can rupture. The surgery could be performed in a way that is unsatisfactory. Some women who receive breast implants report symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, hair loss, swollen glands, or IBS that cannot be explained from a medical standpoint.
This condition is known among professionals as Breast Implant Illness (BII). Though BII has not been officially classified as a medical illness yet, Dr. Robert Whitfield believes that each patient deserves to be heard by their doctor. Sometimes, that means breast implant removal surgery.
Breast implant removal surgery begins with a consultation. Dr. Whitfield will sit down with you and listen to your situation. If you decide to proceed with surgery, Dr. Whitfield will make sure you have the information you need to have a safe procedure with the desired results in a timely manner.
After you arrive at the hospital, Dr. Whitfield will meet with you and help prepare you for surgery. The process will likely feel very similar to your breast augmentation surgery. Dr. Whitfield will conduct an examination and draw the incision lines. Then, a board-certified anesthesiologist will gently ease you into a deep sleep. You will be under general anesthesia for the duration of the surgery.
Each case is different and the scar tissue that forms after breast implant placement may remain soft and not require explant. Breast implant removal surgery often involves the removal of the implant as well as the capsule in their entirety. This is known as an en bloc capsulectomy, which is a removal of the implant and the scar tissue that surrounds it. This is often the tactic used in cases of capsular contracture, where the scar tissue that forms around the implant following placement can harden, causing pain and discomfort.
For patients who are having their implants removed as part of a breast cancer treatment, Dr. Whitfield offers the option of reconstruction using a DIEP free flap, depending on your medical condition. These options will be discussed as part of your consultation.
On your surgery day, it will be important to arrange transportation to and from the hospital. Breast implant removal surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, but it requires general anesthesia. While most patients don’t require an overnight stay in the hospital, you will need someone to drive you home following your surgery. Many patients also take time off work and arrange for someone to stay with them for a few days to care for them during the recovery process.
Fat transfer surgeries are hardly new – plastic surgeons have been pulling fat from one part of the body and injecting it into another since the late 1890s. However, the use of fat transfer for breast augmentation didn’t really catch on for another hundred years, due to complications that could arise from the procedure. Recent innovations have addressed those risks and made fat transfer breast augmentation one of the most exciting and fastest-growing methods of reshaping the breasts.
Dr. Whitfield offers breast implant removal with fat transfer for patients who wish to maintain a full figure without implants.
With this surgery, Dr. Whitfield will carefully remove the implants, then use fat from other parts of your body to help reshape your breasts to a natural, full look.
Dr. Whitfield believes it is very important to help you uncover the information you need about the issues that led to your breast removal surgery. Following your surgery, Dr. Whitfield will take samples for bacterial and fungal analysis to evaluate for implant-related inflammation. The capsule will also be sent for testing, to rule out BIA-ALCL, or other potentially malignancies – like breast cancer.
Dr. Whitfield may also refer this information to other providers to conduct tests on environmental, diet, and nutritional factors where you decide it is appropriate.
If the procedure is done at the surgery center, the implants will then be returned to you if you desire.
Recovery time varies based on the patient. Since many women come in with their immune systems already suppressed it may require a bit longer to recover. In general, recovery from breast implant removal surgery will take in the range of one to four weeks.
Symptoms related to autoimmune disorders require longer periods. Drains may be used in the case of rupture, obvious infection, or complicated surgery like some en bloc capsulotomies. These options will be discussed with you prior to your surgery, and Dr. Whitfield will give you specific instructions for your recovery before your surgery.
Much like how years of wearing heavy earrings can stretch the skin around the earlobes, your breast skin can become stretched after supporting the weight and size of implants for years. As a result, many patients decide to combine their breast implant surgery with a breast lift (mastopexy) to restore their breasts to a full, natural feel.
Breast Implant-related Illness (BII) is a term for a number of symptoms that some patients experience following breast implants. The most common of these are:
Breast Implant-related Illness has been documented anecdotally by thousands of patients but has not been officially diagnosed as a medical illness yet due to a lack of formal studies surrounding it. There have also not been any peer-reviewed studies that track the total number of these complaints or their severity. Despite this lack of official designation, Dr. Whitfield believes patient comfort and safety are top priorities in any treatment analysis. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms following your breast implant procedure and have questions about whether what you are experiencing is BII, Dr. Whitfield will be glad to answer these questions during your consultation.
– Dr. Robert Whitfield, MD, FACS Plastic Surgeon – Austin, TX