Removing Breast Implants or Replacing Implants with new ones: Explantation Procedures
How do you know when it’s time for your next breast augmentation operation, such as explantation or replacement of older breast implants? Should you completely remove your breast implants (explantation) or replace them with newer implants of a different size or shape? And if you do just remove your implants, will you definitely need a breast lift afterwards? Originally published 2016; last updated 13 November 2018. These are the FAQS of Breast Implant Removal or Replacement from our Specialist Plastic Surgeons in Melbourne.
Breast Implant ‘Explantation’ – what you need to know.
When it’s time to say goodbye to older Breast Implants: removing breast implants and/or replacing them with newer ones – there are a few important items to consider. Changing out your breast implants involves considering:
- Re-Operation and Recovery Planning
- Removal or Replacement Options
- Explantation and/or Breast Augmentation (Implant replacement) with or without a breast lift (Mastopexy)
- Time frames, lifetime warranty criteria (see below)
The first consideration, if no issues have occurred, is the lifetime of a typical high-quality Breast Prosthesis (Implant).
First, if you have breast augmentation surgery, you’ll be aware:
- That re-operation in the future is part of having a breast augmentation using breast implants.
- That a lifetime warranty of Breast Implants (Prosthesis) is not the patient’s lifetime – more the expected duration or durability of an implant over time (all prosthesis are subjected to the impact of ageing).
There is no set time frame for breast implant removal or replacement that suits ALL patients.
- for some women, a second operation comes earlier than 10 years
- other women choose to forgo replacement at 10 years even though it is recommended to assess the implant AND to take into consideration that the older the implant, the higher the potential risks of complications
Some women remove breast implants earlier – or replace their implants due to a complication OR a desire for a cup size change.
- If a complication from primary breast augmentation occurs, for example, a capsular contracture, then breast implant removal or replacement surgery may be required much sooner (and may involve a capsulectomy)
- For other patients, removal and replacement of breast implants is evaluated and/or scheduled around the 8 to 10 year mark.
Not everyone follows this advice on replacement or removal of existing breast implants.
- But it is considered a good practice to have annual reviews and examinations by your Plastic Surgeon.
- This is more than good medical practice; it is especially important if there’s evidence your breast implants are ageing and/or you and your Surgeon have concerns about their longevity.
The 10 year Breast Implant Warranty Period and Replacement Surgery: Assessments
- Some women have secondary breast surgery around 10 years (give or take 2 years) AFTER first getting breast implants
- Other women have surgery earlier.
- Some women, who never have concerns, may avoid re-operation, occasionally for a lifetime.
- Typically, however, a woman will come to a stage in life she needs a breast lift or removal of her breast implants.
- Before doing so, proper medical assessments and evaluations are in order.
Warranty information on replacement of breast implants that failed.
- most quality breast implants have good records of durability and longevity, although implant ageing has been shown to impact prosthesis integrity over time
- if your implants fails within 10 years of your primary augmentation surgery, and if your prosthesis remains under warranty, a replacement SET of new breast implants MAY be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty
- if so, strict criteria and documentation apply, including return of the original implants and Surgeon’s reports and photographs
- the surgery itself is still at your expense, only the implants will be replaced if you meet criteria).
A lift or just explantation? Your Plastic Surgeon can give you advice during a confidential consultation.
- Sometimes, breast implant removal or replacement surgery is combined with a breast lift, with or without implants, depending on weight changes, breast shape changes and skin ageing or ptosis.
- The best way to assess this is to discuss your current skin ptosis, your current size or shape ideals, and your appearance preferences, with your Plastic Surgeon.
- Ask to see one of our Melbourne explantation or implant replacement experts including Dr Craig Rubinstein, Dr Richard Sackelariou, Dr Douglas McManamny, Dr Rebecca Wyten, Dr Geoff Barnett or Dr Richard Maxwell by phoning (03)88491444.
Breast Augmentation Patient advice for implant check ups, reviews and removal or replacement
- It remains important to adhere to annual check-up recommendations with your original Surgeon and to conduct a pre-10 year investigation that may involve ultrasound, MRI or other medical assessments.
- These exams and assessments may help ascertain the stability or durability of your existing breast implants and help determine if it’s time to either remove or replace existing breast implants.
Breast Implants Replacement and Removal – Guidelines for Medical Practices
- The best-practice protocols or methods for assessing the status of existing breast implants is to CHECK them at least every year or more often if the patient has any concerns and/or has had any prior complications with their augmentation.
- A more intensive review and/or breast implant imaging is ideally scheduled sometime BEFORE the 10 year post-operation mark or end of the breast implants’ lifetime warranty (available from selected manufacturers only).
The estimated lifetime warranty period for a breast implant is typically 10 years (durability/integrity).
Guideline for Reviews of Patients who have Breast Implants/Breast Augmentation:
- Notify your Surgeon immediately if you have concerns or changes to your breast appearance or breast implant results.
- It’s very important to make notes in your CALENDAR/DIARY about WHEN to get your annual medical check ups and reviews with your Plastic Surgeon.
- It is recommended to make special notes to yourself about having a more extensive check up around the 10 year post-augmentation surgery time frame.
- Be sure your Surgeon has up-to-date contact information for you if you’ve changed your address, phone numbers, email addresses and so forth since you first got breast implants.
Do implants always last for at least 10 years? Do you need to remove them or replace them every decade?
- Replacement or removal of breast implants is usually assessed on an individual basis.
- This does NOT mean your breast implants are guaranteed to last 10 years; it does mean the manufacturer expects your implants to remain intact and viable for approximately 10 years.
- If early re-operation is required due to a fault with the implant OR some other failure linked with manufacturing or implant quality, the manufacturer will usually replace the actual set of breast implants (the prosthesis) removed during earlier surgery SO LONG AS certain warranty and replacement criteria and patient conditions are met.
- The replacement does NOT cover surgery costs but simply covers a new pair of breast implants in sterile packaging.
- Your Surgeon would have to fill in paperwork and return the replaced prosthesis to the manufacturer; usually other conditions apply for warranty reimbursements.
What is considered best practice or standard protocol for checking on your existing Breast Implants?
Upsizing, Downsizing or Breast Implant Removal and Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Most things in life don’t last forever. The same is true with soft silicone breast implants.
- The life expectancy of breast implants does vary, and many Surgeons have seen some breast implants remain in place, successfully, even after 40 years.
- However, never replacing your breast implants is NOT what most implant manufacturers recommend.
- Their prosthesis warranty information usually recommends annual reviews PLUS checking and/or replacing breast implants at the 10 year mark, if not before.
Deciding when it’s time to remove existing, older breast implants:
- You and your Surgeon will not only decide WHEN it’s appropriate to replace or remove your existing implants
- You’ll also have new choices to make about your implants or reconstruction surgery, including nipple surgery or an breast uplift.
- Fat transfer or fat grafting via liposuction may be an added shaping or cleavage-enhancement option, depending on your existing body shape, your BMI, and your breast size preferences.
MRI Checkups – Implant Removal and Replacement
- Annual check ups after getting breast implants is a must – we strongly recommend you check with your Surgeon at least once a year and keep your Surgeon updated if you have any health changes or concerns.
- Regular MRI checkups can also be helpful, particularly if there’s a concern.
- If you have had your implants in place for 10 to 15 years or longer, you should definitely visit with your Surgeon for a check-up and re-operation consultation, to evaluate your possible options for explantation of existing breast implants and/or removal and replacement.
If you are having your implants removed entirely, then some reconstruction like a breast lift may also be necessary.
Even some ptotic breasts that have sagged over time, may require a lift as well as new implants (a mastopexy-augmentation or combined breast lift with implants).
Ask for Dr Richard Sackelariou, Dr Craig Rubinstein, Dr Geoff Barnett, Dr Rebecca Wyten, Dr Douglas McManamny and Dr Richard Maxwell for an implant replacement evaluation or assessment.
Do you want to discuss your Implant Removal or Replacement Options with a Breast Surgery Specialist Plastic Surgeon?
For a consultation to consider your breast implant removal or replacement and breast lift or breast reduction options, please submit a confidential Enquiry Form below. Or phone a Patient Care Coordinator during business hours on (03) 8849 1400.
You are also welcome to attend one of our regular and informative surgery clinic events to meet Our Specialist Plastic Surgeons and their Support Team to learn more about your breast implant removal or implant replacement procedure options.
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This blog was about ex-plantation of existing breast implants (removal) and either replacing them with new breast implants OR removing implants altogether.
Research and Sources on Diagnosis of implant integrity vs rupture:
Breast Implant Explantation including MRI imaging for Diagnosis – literature reviews