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Breast Implant Removal/Replacement

Breast augmentation is a popular cosmetic procedure with over 300,000 breast augmentations performed each year in the United States. While breast implants are extremely safe and can last for many years, eventually they will need to be replaced.


What is the purpose of a breast replacement or removal?

Breast implant removal, replacement, or breast revision surgery may be of interest to patients for a few purposes:

  • The desire for larger or smaller size implants
  • A lift or reshaping of the breast with new implants
  • Replacement during the removal of scar tissue such as a capsular contracture
  • To replace or remove a ruptured or deflated implant (this is exceedingly rare – only around 3% or breast implants experience these issues)
  • To reposition a migrated implant
  • Dissatisfaction with the results or implants or a desire to return to natural breast size
  • Breast implants that feel too heavy or are no longer proportionate

Breast removal or replacement due to recall

Breast implants may be removed or replaced due to a concern about illnesses related to implants. Most recently, there was a voluntary withdrawal of Natrelle textured implants by Allergan as requested by the FDA over concerns of a heightened risk of BIA-ALCL (breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma). While the FDA does not advise removing these breast implants, they do advise discussing your options with your doctor and remaining vigilant for any signs or symptoms of BIA-ALCL.


The Allergan textured implant withdrawal

At the end of July 2019, Allergan issued a voluntary withdrawal for their Natrelle line of both saline and silicone textured implants. Textured implants are not common in the United States, making up only 10 percent of breast implants. Macro-textured implants (like the types of implants recalled) are even less common, making up only 5 percent of implants. However, textured implants present more than 80 percent of the market outside of the United States.

The potential link between macro-textured implants and BIA-ALCL has theorized to be associated with more chance for bacteria to flourish in crevices of the implant surface, leading to inflammation, which may explain the higher likelihood of illness from these types of implants – as yet, this theory is not confirmed.


What is BIA-ALCL?

BIA-ALCL is an extremely rare non-Hodgkin’s form of lymphoma that grows slowly, making it easy to catch and very treatable. While the likelihood of developing BIA-ALCL is low, the FDA recommends that patients with these types of implants keep a close eye on changes in breast shape, size, or firmness as well seeking out medical attention for any pain, swelling, or lumps in or around the breasts.


What is the process of breast removal or replacement?

Breast removal or replacement is similar to the augmentation procedure in that you will be administered anesthesia before your surgeon begins. There are three main types of incisions used in breast implant removal or replacement:

  • Peri-areolar (around the areola)
  • Inframammary (under the crease of the breast) (Dr. Gabriel’s preferred method.
  • Vertical or Wise pattern breast lift incisions

The type of incisions your surgeon uses will depend on a variety of factors: your particular breast implants, whether you are requesting a removal, replacement or coinciding lift, and the desired results.

Once your surgeon makes the best incisions, he will remove the current breast implants and any hardened scar tissue. If you are electing to have a breast lift or replacement, your surgeon will remove any excess skin and tighten the breast tissues during the life or insert the new breast implants, close the incisions, and bandage the surgical site.


How long does it take to recover from breast implant removal or replacement?

Similar to breast augmentation surgery, breast implant removal or replacement is a major surgery requiring anesthesia and a decent amount of rest after the procedure to heal correctly. More often, removal or replacement surgery has a slightly easier recovery period, depending on the type of procedure. Most patients can return to work after one week but should refrain from strenuous activity for up to six weeks.


Am I a candidate for breast replacement or removal?

If you have been thinking of breast implant removal or replacement due to discontent with your appearance or discomfort, you may be a good candidate for breast implant replacement or removal. Candidates for breast implant removal or replacement are in good health and at a stable weight. If you are interested in learning more about breast implant removal or replacement, please reach out to our team to schedule a consultation.


Why choose Dr. Gabriel for breast implant removal or replacement?

Dr. Allen Gabriel is a renowned and board-certified plastic surgeon serving the Pacific Northwest in the areas of Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA. A recipient of multiple awards and accolades, Dr. Gabriel is also one of the few doctors to receive the Humanism in Medicine Award. He has also been recognized as one of the top 100 doctors in the United States by RealSelf. Dr. Gabriel’s attention to detail and an artistic eye are known to create unmatched results for his discerning patients.

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