For many, breast implants are a life-changing confidence booster, but some experience complications with their implants later on. When women come into Dr. Robert Whitfield’s office with concerns regarding their breast implants, breast implant removal surgery may be an option for addressing their problems.
What is breast implant removal (BIR) surgery?
Breast implant removal surgery, also known as an explant, is a procedure to remove silicone or saline breast implants because the patient either no longer wants them or is experiencing complications with them. During this procedure, an incision is made on the existing scar and the implants are removed.
Many women seek breast implant removal because they are experiencing a capsular contracture, in which scar tissue hardens around the implant. In some cases, surgeons remove scar tissue or silicone from implant leaks along with the implants themselves because they could be causing more discomfort for the patient.
Benefits of BIR
Perhaps the biggest benefit of breast implant removal is that it is an instant pain relief, as it can remove complications causing discomfort as well as heavy implants causing neck or back pain. Some women opt for new implants after having their old ones removed or have fat transferred to add volume back, so the procedure can not only ease pain, but also leave women still feeling confident in their breasts. Breast implant removal is a relatively simple procedure and causes a small amount of scarring to the skin and tissue. It is less costly compared to other more complicated surgeries to remove both the capsule and the implant together intact.
Total capsulectomy with breast implant removal
Many women experiencing a capsular contracture require a total capsulectomy with their breast implant removal procedure. Also known as a precise capsulectomy, a total capsulectomy is a procedure in which all of the capsular scar tissue around the implant is removed. The capsule may be removed in fragments after removing the implant through the incision. The capsular tissue and surrounding tissues are separated with this removal. This procedure is more thorough than a partial capsulectomy, where remnants of the capsule might be left behind to break down.
Benefits of a total capsulectomy:
The formation of scar tissue is the body’s natural response to an implant. In a total capsulectomy, all of the scar tissue is removed, avoiding discomfort and visible distortion in the breasts caused by capsular contracture. A total capsulectomy also limits the risk of material coming into contact with an implant if it is ruptured. The procedure also limits the risk of infection spreading to other tissues.
En-bloc capsulectomy with breast implant removal
An en-bloc capsulectomy with breast implant removal is a procedure in which the scar tissue surrounding an implant is removed completely in one piece. It is a more difficult approach to removing the capsular scar tissue, but is completely doable for an experienced surgeon. It can require more time and effort to separate it from the underlying tissues or structures depending on the positioning. Like a total capsulectomy, an en-bloc capsulectomy limits the risk of possible infections spreading to other tissues.
Additions to a BIR
The volume of the breast can be substantially decreased following breast implant removal, depending on the amount of natural breast tissue a patient has. Some women choose to combine the procedure with rejuvenation procedures for a more youthful appearance. Breast implant removal procedures can be combined with a breast lift and fat transfer, a combination Dr. Whitfield likes to call the holistic mommy makeover.
Dr. Whitfield evaluates every patient for fat transfer, typically from the bra area, love handle area, abdomen, and inner and outer thighs. During the holistic mommy makeover, he removes implants and performs liposculpture in the areas women have enough fat to safely transfer from. The fat goes into the Wells Johnson machine and is then transferred, with the same size cannula, into the breast. This can help restore lost volume from the explant and give the breasts a more youthful appearance. Women can choose to have this done at a different session or during their breast implant removal surgery.
Benefits of add-ons:
As stated above, adding on rejuvenation procedures to breast implant removal surgery can promote a more youthful appearance. These procedures work to rejuvenate by tightening the skin, giving the breast the volume lost from implant removal, and lifting the breast. Adding on these procedures does not make a significant difference in the recovery time period.
Historically, drains were commonly used in explants, but plastic surgeons have found that just as tummy tucks, they can be done without drains. Dr. Whitfield does not use drains because he has found them to have no significant benefits, and in fact has found some disadvantages to them. Drains don’t prevent infections or hematomas, and women actually infect themselves by touching their drains but not properly cleaning their hands. Drains essentially cause more infections than they prevent.
Is a breast implant removal right for you?
Breast implant removal can be done through multiple methods depending on the situation of the patient and what their preferences are. They can be done through a total capsulectomy, an en-bloc capsulectomy, or a partial capsulectomy depending on the seriousness of a patient’s complications. They can also be followed by rejuvenation procedures such as fat transfers with breast lifts in order to maintain volume in the breast, without the discomfort of the old implants.
To learn more, tune into Dr. Whitfield’s podcast at pod.link/holisticandscientific