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Breast Explantation

What Is Breast Explantation?

Breast explantation, or breast implant removal, is a surgery to take out implants from a previous breast augmentation or breast reconstruction. The motivation behind getting this procedure will vary for each patient, as it can be performed for cosmetic or medical reasons. Some women may opt to exchange their implants in a breast implant revision, while others choose to remove their implants without a replacement.

As our experienced breast surgeon, Dr. Neil J. Zemmel, informs all of his breast augmentation patients, implants are not intended to last one’s lifetime. Eventually they will need to be replaced. Whether you are interested in replacing your implants or removing them indefinitely, learn more about the explant procedure by reading the detailed sections below.

Am I Good Candidate for Breast Explantation?

Those considering breast explantation should be in generally good health and have realistic expectations about the outcome of their procedure. It is important that patients refrain from smoking before and after surgery, as this can hinder proper healing. In general, women who are good candidates for an explant procedure can relate to one or more of the following:

  • No longer like the look of your breast implants
  • Are experiencing discomfort or pain associated with having implants
  • Have developed a complication such as a leak, rupture, or capsular contracture (scar tissue hardening around the implant)
  • Suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of breast implant illness, such as BIA-ALCL

If you are wondering if breast implant removal is right for you, schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon. Dr. Zemmel can help you determine if the procedure is right for you, or if an alternative option may be more appropriate.

What Is Breast Implant Illness?

Breast implant illness (BII) is the name for a variety of symptoms women associate with having breast implants. Numerous studies have been performed on the safety of breast implants, and no scientific evidence has shown a direct link between implants and systemic conditions. That said, the symptoms some women experience are very real, which is why Dr. Zemmel does not take the concern of BII lightly.

When patients believe their implants are causing an adverse reaction, Dr. Zemmel works with them to find the best solution for their needs, such as implant revision or complete removal.

While breast implants have not shown to directly cause systemic illness, there has been growing concern over new research about certain types of implants. In July 2019, the FDA advised Allergan® to recall its textured implants and textured expanders, after these products were found to have a higher rate of Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). BIA-ALCL is an extremely rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that has a high cure rate when caught early. Although this can be very concerning for patients with recalled implants, the FDA does not recommend removing them unless symptoms are being experienced.

What Does an En Bloc Capsulectomy Entail?

When performing a breast explantation, Dr. Zemmel prefers using what is known as the en bloc technique, or total capsulectomy. The en bloc capsulectomy procedure entails removing the breast implant while it is still inside the surrounding capsule (scar tissue)—as opposed to opening the capsule to remove the implant first. By removing both the implant and capsule in one piece, any leaked implant material remains inside the capsule. This is especially beneficial for patients showing signs of BII or BIA-ALCL. Patient safety is Dr. Zemmel’s top priority, which is why he recommends the en bloc capsulectomy whenever it is a viable option. During the consultation process, Dr. Zemmel will go over the details of the explant procedure, explaining what it will involve and potential risks of the procedure.

What Can I Expect After Breast Explantation?

Following breast explant surgery, you should be able to resume your normal activities after a few days and return to work after one week. You will be instructed to wear compression garments to help promote healing. While everyone heals at their own rate, you can expect some degree of swelling and bruising, which should fade within the first few weeks. Any pain can typically be well-controlled with pain medication. To allow your body adequate healing time, you should avoid overexerting yourself with strenuous activities for about six weeks.

Dr. Zemmel will provide you with more detailed post-operative care instructions before your surgery, and ensure you know what to expect to help you navigate through your recovery.

How Much Does a Breast Explant Cost?

The average cost of breast implant removal is $2,566 for the surgeon’s fee, but as a highly individualized procedure, costs can vary. The expertise of the surgeon, geographic location of the practice, and complexity of your surgery will all influence your total explant cost. A personalized cost quote will be provided during your consultation to help you understand the fees associated with your procedure. If interested, you can apply for financing options to break your total cost into smaller monthly payments.