Breast Implant Removal And Replacement Surgery

Breast implant removal and replacement surgery is carried out when a woman needs to replace an implant that has reached its expiration date, or when she’d like to change the size or type of her implant.

In rarer circumstances, the procedure needs to be carried out for health reasons.

The surgery involves two operations: the removal of your old implants and the insertion of a new pair of implants.

When Do Breast Implants Need To Be Removed And Replaced?

Your breast implants may need to be replaced for a number of different reasons, including:

  • Rupture and deflation of implants: the development of a small hole in the outer shell of your implant can cause it to gradually leak its contents into your breast tissue suddenly or over a period of several days. This deflation consequently causes your breast to markedly shrink in size, causing uneven breasts. It is more difficult to diagnose a ruptured silicone implant than a saline one, so it is recommended that patients with silicone implants have a breast MRI 3 years after surgery (and every 2 years thereafter) to detect if the implants have torn.

  • Capsular contracture: this is when the implant remains intact, but the scar tissue surrounding it tightens too much and becomes hard and painful. Capsular contracture can also cause breast implants to move from their original position, resulting in uneven breasts or implants that are visible through the skin.

  • You’d like a different size implant: you may have changed your mind about the size of your current implants, and want to make your breasts smaller or larger than they already are. You might have also lost or gained a lot of weight, meaning your implants now do not suit your body shape.

  • You’d like to change implant type: you might want to change the type of breast implant you have, from saline to silicone or vice versa. For example, some patients replace their saline implants with the silicone alternative because they achieve a more naturally looking and feeling breast.

  • Bottoming out or asymmetric breasts: occasionally, breast implants can move out of place and cause your breasts to become asymmetric or ‘bottom out’, where your breasts appear droopy or bottom heavy. Sometimes, implants that have shifted can also cause dimpling or puckering on your breast skin, especially when bending over. This occurs more frequently in patients with saline implants than silicone implants.

  • Expiration of the breast implant: breast implants do not last forever - they have a lifespan of approximately 10 to 15 years, by which time they’ll need to be changed.

  • Infection: an infection will develop if your wounds from your breast enlargement surgery become contaminated with microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungi. If this occurs, your implants will need to be removed immediately and replaced.

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How Is It Performed?

Breast implant removal and replacement surgery is often carried out in one single surgery. However, if you are undergoing the procedure due to an infection, your surgeon will remove your current implants but may recommend that they aren’t replaced with a new pair until the infection has cleared up. This could take up to 3 months, meaning you will be without implants for this period of time.

The procedure is normally carried out under general anaesthetic, meaning you will be asleep during the operation. It typically takes between 1 and 2 hours to complete, depending on your unique circumstances.

Bear in mind that when having removal and replacement surgery, you do not have to go back to the surgeon who originally performed your primary breast enlargement procedure. However you will need to contact your original surgeon to obtain copies of your surgical notes to give to your new surgeon to assist in the replacement procedure.

Below is a step-by-step guide about what to expect during the breast implant removal and replacement procedure:

Before

  • You will attend a consultation with your cosmetic surgeon in which you will discuss with them your issues with your current breast implants. They will examine your breasts and develop a surgical plan which they will talk over with you. You should ask any questions you have about the surgery so that you have a clear idea of what to expect from the procedure.

  • Your cosmetic surgeon will then discuss with you the cost and how you will pay for your implant removal and replacement surgery. Once this is finalised, you will be able to book the day of your surgery.

During

  • You will meet with your anaesthetist who will make you feel relaxed and comfortable before giving you a general anaesthetic. Once you are asleep, you will be transported to the operating theatre.

  • Your surgeon will access and remove your existing implants via the same location as in your original breast enlargement procedure. This means that a new incision will not be created on your breasts. However if you are replacing your implants with a smaller implant, or your implants were inserted through your areola in your primary surgery, then your surgeon may need to create a new incision on your breasts. This will leave you with additional scarring.

  • Once your old implants have been removed, your surgeon will insert your new ones. If you’re simply having you’re breast implants swapped, your surgeon will more than likely place your new implants in the same space created by your original implants. However, if you require your implants to be removed due to a complication such as capsular contracture, your surgeon may decide to create a new pocket in your breast. For example, if your original implants sat on top of your chest muscle, your new implants might be placed below it.

  • After your new implants have been inserted into your breasts, the incisions will be closed using stitches and sterile bandages will be placed over them. You will then be transported to a recovery room where you will be given painkillers and allowed to rest until you are ready to go home.

After

  • Your surgeon will arrange a follow-up appointment with you. This will be scheduled within the first few days after your operation to allow your surgeon to monitor your recovery. You will be given a set of post-operative instructions by your surgical team which you must follow. You may also be given a surgical bra to aid the healing process. This should be worn full time until your first follow-up appointment.

  • You may experience some discomfort in your breasts in the first few days after the procedure, including numbness, tightness and bruising. Take medication to ease the pain, but start walking as soon as you feel able to as this can reduce swelling.

  • You can resume everyday activities within 3 to 10 days after your surgery. Vigorous activity should be avoided for at least a month however, and you should refrain from engaging in contact sports for at least 6 weeks.

It is important to remember that if your new breast implants have been placed in the same space as your old ones, then your recovery from breast replacement surgery will be quicker and less uncomfortable than your original breast implant surgery. This is because any stretching of the breast tissue around the implant would already have taken place. If your implants have been inserted into a new pocket in your breast tissue however, then recovery will be similar to that of your original breast enlargement procedure.


Breast Implant Replacement Cost

Breast implant removal and replacement surgery can be a more complex surgical procedure than just having implants inserted, meaning the price of the surgery can be more expensive than what you paid for your original breast enlargement. This is especially true for those who undergo the procedure to correct capsular contracture or an infection.

Some clinics will not charge you to have your breast implants removed and replaced however, but this will depend on the reason why you need the procedure as well as the clinic’s policy towards revision surgery. Bear in mind that most breast implants come with at least a 10 year warranty. If you need to undergo replacement surgery within this time period due to a fault with your implant, the cost of the procedure is likely to be covered by the manufacturer of your implants. Make sure you are clear about how much breast implant removal and replacement will cost you before you book your surgery.

The average cost of breast implant removal and replacement surgery is £5,240, with prices ranging from £4,650 to almost £6,000. Below is a summary of the starting price of breast implant removal and replacement at some of the leading breast surgery clinics in the UK:

Clinic Starting Price
Aurora Clinics £5,830
Harley Medical Group £4,650
MyBreast £4,750
The Private Clinic £4,990

Prices correct as of September 2017

With the cost of procedure being so high, many clinics provide their patients with an option to pay for the breast surgery on finance in order to make payment more manageable. Most offer a loan repayment scheme in which you make small monthly payments with a fixed interest rate (APR) over 1 to 5 years, plus a down payment to secure the day of your surgery. Others also offer an interest-free credit agreement in which you pay off your surgery over 6 or 12 months. Each clinic will offer different financial assistance, so you should research which option best suits your budget and circumstances.


Are There Any Risks?

As with all surgeries, there are some risks involved with breast implant removal and replacement. Some potential complications include:

  • Allergic reaction to anaesthesia
  • Infection
  • Internal bleeding or blood clots
  • Capsular contracture
  • Permanent scarring

Your surgeon will talk you through all of the risks before your surgery, and will explain to you the chances of them occurring as well as how they are treated. If you think you are experiencing any of these complications following the procedure, you should seek medical assistance immediately. If you believe that they have been caused by the malpractice of your surgeon, then you should contact the Care Quality Commission and raise a complaint.

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