Explant surgery, or breast implant removal, is a detailed procedure executed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. It involves the precise removal of breast implants, either saline or silicone implants, from the breast pocket and the implant capsule, a scar tissue capsule formed around the implant as the body’s response to foreign medical devices.
This guide offers a comprehensive overview of what to expect after implant removal surgery, from recovery time and days after surgery, including physical activity restrictions and potential for heavy lifting, to the long-term physical and emotional implications, which may include joint pain, muscle pain, and systemic symptoms.
It also highlights the possible need for additional surgeries like a breast lift or breast reconstruction, especially in cases with excess skin or loose skin, and the role of a healthy diet in the recovery process.
The Immediate Aftermath of Breast Implant Removal
This surgical treatment demands careful management due to physical changes and emotional shifts. After breast implant removal, the recovery process is influenced by the individual’s health status, explant procedure technique, implant size, and complications like capsular contracture or breast implant illness.
First 24 Hours and Week One Post-Removal
The first 24 hours and week after implant removal are vital for recovery. Patients should wear a compression bra for breast support, sleep on their back to reduce breast pressure, and avoid strenuous activities or heavy lifting. Managing discomfort or swelling may require pain medication and ice packs, especially in the first week.
Physical Changes After Breast Implant Removal
Breast Appearance and Contour
Post-breast implant removal, changes in breast appearance, shape, and size are common. Factors such as implant size and changes in natural tissue and skin elasticity can cause sagging or drooping breasts.
Scarring and Skin Elasticity
Surgical procedures like breast implant removal often result in scarring, which may diminish but not completely disappear over time. In addition, changes in breast skin elasticity can influence the post-removal appearance of the chest.
Emotional Impact of Breast Implant Removal
Post-explant surgeries, adapting to the new body image can be difficult. Some women may experience feelings of loss or disappointment, while others may find relief or satisfaction. It’s crucial to seek professional help during this period of time.
Social Perceptions and Reactions
Social reactions to the removal of implants can vary from support to judgment. It’s vital to surround oneself with positive influences during the recovery period.
Medical Aspects of Post-Implant Removal
Monitoring and Follow-up Appointments
Regular follow-up appointments serve the dual purpose of monitoring the healing process and detecting potential complications like an infection, bleeding, and changes in breast sensation. In addition, they provide a valuable platform for patients to openly communicate their concerns, facilitating timely intervention if necessary.
Lifestyle Changes After Breast Implant Removal
Exercise and Physical Activity
After implant removal, physical activity, especially strenuous activity involving chest muscles and the pectoralis muscle, should be limited to aid recovery. Once the plastic surgeon gives the all-clear, patients can slowly resume their regular exercise routine.
Breast implant removal can alter clothing fit, particularly with larger implants. After the explant procedure, tops, swimwear, and bras may require adjustments due to changes in breast size and shape. It’s recommended to purchase new clothes after full recovery.
Alternative Procedures After Breast Implant Removal
Breast Lifts and Other Options
Breast lift surgery is common to address sagging breasts. It reshapes breast tissue for improved contour and firmness and can reposition the nipple and areola. Other procedures like breast reduction or augmentation can accompany this surgery.
Breast augmentation with fat transfer is another alternative procedure that women may consider post-implant removal. This procedure uses the patient’s fat to improve breast size and shape, providing a natural alternative to saline breast implants or silicone breast implants, suitable for women avoiding synthetic materials.
Breast augmentation with fat transfer is another alternative procedure that women may consider post-implant removal. This procedure uses patient’s fat to improve breast size and shape, providing a natural alternative to saline breast implants or silicone breast implants, suitable for women avoiding synthetic materials.
For those with a history of breast cancer, breast reconstruction surgery may be an option. This procedure restores the breast’s natural shape and size post-mastectomy or lumpectomy, using implants or natural tissue flaps based on the patient’s medical history and preferences.
Non-surgical alternatives like radiofrequency therapy and laser skin tightening can improve skin elasticity and firmness. Radiofrequency therapy non-invasively heats the deep skin to promote collagen and tighten the skin. Laser skin tightening uses infrared light to heat collagen to improve skin texture.
The Good and Bad of Breast Implant Removal
Pros of Removal
This surgery primarily alleviates physical symptoms linked to Breast Implant Illness (BII), including joint and muscle pain, especially in the chest and pectoralis muscles, and systemic symptoms like chronic fatigue.
Breast implant removal can resolve post-surgery complications like capsular contracture, a condition where the scar tissue around the implant in the breast pocket hardens, causing discomfort and altering breast shape.
Explant surgery can enhance self-esteem and body image as women return to their natural breast tissue and size. This also simplifies breast cancer screening, as implants can hinder full mammogram views.
Cons to Consider
Explant patients often worry about the cost. The procedure’s complexity, potential complications like capsular contracture, and the possible need for additional breast surgeries like a breast lift or augmentation can significantly impact finances.
While the risk of postoperative complications is low with a board-certified plastic surgeon, potential issues can include implant-associated infections needing antibiotic treatment, or rare changes in natural killer cell function, possibly leading to autoimmune or connective tissue diseases.
Preparing for Life After Breast Implant Removal
What to Discuss with Your Surgeon
Express your reasons for wanting the implants removed with your surgeon, your medical history, expectations for the outcome, and any concerns or questions you may have about the procedure or recovery process.
Discuss potential complications like capsular contracture, implant-associated infections, and the possible need for antibiotic or surgical treatment with your surgeon, including the complication rate among breast augmentation patients.
Planning for Recovery
Prepare for post-implant removal recovery by scheduling time off, arranging assistance, and readying for physical and emotional shifts. Adhere to your explant surgeon’s pre- and post-operative care guidelines for a smooth recovery.