Dr. Boyd


How Do Breasts Look After Implants Are Removed?

Posted June 15, 2024 in Breast Implants

Women checking out Breast Implant options

Women choose to remove their breast implants for several reasons: to increase or decrease the implant size; to change the implant material or placement because of a complication, or to forego implants altogether. This blog describes the options available following breast implant removal (explant surgery) and the potential outcomes of each.

7 Min Read:

Replacing Large Implants with Smaller

The female body changes over time with weight gain (or loss), child bearing and increasing skin laxity. Attitudes change, too, and what looked good at 22 no longer cuts the mustard at 42. Choosing to replace an existing implant with a smaller one may be motivated by discomfort, a desire to regain a more proportional appearance or the wish to fit into more svelte attire. Many women feel that a more natural look may be more appropriate to their present lifestyle:

  • Reduced Size: The breasts will appear smaller, but unless the implants are placed differently or the fill material (saline or silicone) is switched, they should still maintain a similar shape. Often a breast lift is employed at the same time to counter increasing skin laxity and elevate the nipples to an attractive position.
  • Maintained Volume: Choosing an implant size that will continue to provide youthful volume and shape can help prevent a noticeable loss of firmness.

Replacing Implants With a Larger Size

Choosing to change to a larger implant is not uncommon among women whose changing lifestyle, couture and social environment encourages them to display more cleavage and fullness than previously. In this case, potential results include::

  • Increased Volume: The larger the breasts, the larger the fullness and cleavage.
  • Skin Stretching: Additional skin and tissue stretching will occur to accommodate the larger implants. This often eliminates the looser skin that accompanies aging and childbirth.
  • Potential for Complications: Larger implants may increase the risk of complications such as implant displacement, rippling, and discomfort. It’s essential to have enough natural breast tissue to cover bigger prostheses, and prevent the implant edges being seen or felt through the skin.

Patients choosing larger implants should consider the impact on their lifestyle, potential changes in physical activity, and the long-term effects on breast tissue.

Changing the Material or Placement of Breast Implants

Opting to switch from implant type or placement may stem from: complications; issues with convenience; lifestyle changes; alterations in body habitus, or dissatisfaction with breast appearance.

  • Saline to Silicone: Replacing saline implants with silicone typically results in a more natural appearance and can prevent or reduce rippling, which typically develops when saline implants are placed above the muscle with insufficient natural breast cover.
  • Silicone to Saline: Replacing silicone with saline implants will avoid the need for periodic imaging required with silicone implants to check for silent leaks and may increase breast projection and cleavage.
  • Placement Change: Prepectoral (subglandular) saline implants showing signs of rippling may be moved under the muscle (submuscular placement) for a more natural appearance. Conversely, implants can be changed to subglandular placement when a more dramatic look is desired and when it is desirable to increase cleavage.

A thorough consultation with Dr. Boyd will help patients understand the benefits of each implant placement technique and how the type of implant factors into choosing the best option.

Fat Grafting

For those partial to a more natural look, fat grafting for breast augmentation, in which fat is removed from other body areas and processed before injection into the breast area, can have great success. This is now a common and popular option after breast implant removal. The technique is also used to hide the edge of implants when it is visible through the skin.

Breast Explantation with simultaneous Breast Lifting (Mastopexy)

When not replacing implants, combining their removal with a breast lift can significantly improve aesthetic outcomes. A breast lift (mastopexy) involves excising excess skin and tightening the natural breast tissue to reshape the breast contours. It generally involves elevation of the nipple-areolar complex. This approach offers several benefits:

  • Younger Appearance: The breasts will look more lifted, firm and youthful as excess skin is removed and the nipple elevated. The areola is reduced to an optimal diameter and made into a perfect circle during a breast lift.
  • Improved Shape: A breast lift improves the overall shape of the breast, making it look fuller and firmer despite implant removal.
  • Scarring: While some scarring is inevitable, modern surgical techniques aim to minimize visible scars, often placing them in inconspicuous areas. Ask Dr. Boyd about the ‘lollipop’ scar!

Patients who opt for a breast lift along with implant removal generally report higher satisfaction due to the enhanced contour and reduced sagging. This option is particularly beneficial for those whose skin has been significantly stretched from their implants or who have experienced weight fluctuations or pregnancy.

If Implants Are Removed Without Replacement or a Breast Lift

When implants are removed and not exchanged or lifted, the breasts may appear deflated and saggy, particularly if the implants were large or if they had been in place for a long time. The skin and tissue has been stretched to accommodate the implants, but without them, they often don’t fully retract to their original shape. Several factors influence the final appearance, including:

  • Skin Elasticity: Younger patients or those with good skin elasticity may see a more natural retraction of the skin.
  • Implant Size: Larger implants can lead to more pronounced sagging once removed.
  • Duration of Implants: The longer the implants have been in place, the more the skin and tissue have adapted to their presence, leading to a more noticeable change after removal.
  • Original Breast Size: Women with larger natural breasts may notice less drastic changes than those with smaller ones. However, aging will cause breasts of all sizes to droop.

After implant removal, breasts typically appear smaller and potentially less firm. Over time, the skin may retract to some extent, but it is unlikely to return to the pre-implant state without additional surgical intervention.

Recovery and Cosmetic Breast Surgery Results

Regardless of the option chosen, recovery and final results can vary based on individual factors. Here are some general considerations for anyone undergoing implant removal or replacement:

Complying With the Surgeon’s Instructions

Recovery can range from a few weeks to several months. Following Dr. Boyd’s post-operative instructions is crucial for optimal healing and the best aesthetic outcome. Patients should not use nicotine products of any kind for a month before and after surgery as they can increase the risk of bleeding, delay or even prevent wound healing, and even result in tissue loss and subsequent scarring. Alcohol consumption should also be limited.

Breast Surgery Scars

Scarring is a part of any surgical procedure, but skilled surgeons aim to place incisions in less visible areas and use techniques that minimize scarring. Most breast surgery scars fade nicely over time.

Restricting Strenuous Activity and Taking Time to Heal

Patients will need to rest and limit physical activity following surgery to facilitate wound healing, avoid scar disruption and minimize seroma formation (fluid collection within the wound). Dr. Boyd likes to personally monitor your recovery by frequent visits and phone calls until the sutures come out and you are considered stable. Long-term follow up visits are also mandated.

Emotional and Psychological Impact of Implant Removal

The decision to remove or replace breast implants should not be taken lightly or made on a whim, for it also carries emotional and psychological implications. Women may experience a range of emotions, from relief to anxiety about their new appearance. It is therefore important to:

  • Have Realistic Expectations
  • Seek Support
  • Practice Self-Care

Understanding the physical changes and preparing for the emotional journey can help women navigate this significant transition with confidence, grace and optimism.

Breast Implant Removal and Revision in Palos Verdes, CA

The appearance of breasts after implant removal can vary greatly depending on whether the implants are simply removed, a breast lift is performed, or the implants are replaced with another type or size.

Our respected, board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Brian Boyd, can guide you through the breast implant removal process and create a customized surgical plan to ensure the best results possible. To learn more about your Palos Verdes breast implant removal and revision options, call (310) 597-4734  today.

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Dr. Boyd's office is located in Palos Verdes (Rolling Hills Estates)

550 Deep Valley Drive, Suite 283
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

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