Why Women Have Their Breast Implants Removed


As a Denver Plastic Surgeon who specializes in breast enhancement, I spend most of my time placing breast implants to either restore lost volume or to achieve a volumetric look that was simply never there. But in the last few years, I have been asked to do the exact opposite for patients who simply no longer want breast implants.

So why would someone remove breast implants? While the answers vary, I have to begin by saying that these are not crazy patients with unrealistic expectations. And these are not patients who were suddenly against Plastic Surgery. They are simply everyday women who have decided that the augmented look was no longer a good option for them. And I support them in that decision.

Whatever the underlying reasons, there are a few questions that I always ask:
• Why are you removing your implants?
• Will you be comfortable with less volume?
• Are you willing to accept loss of volume to the top of your breasts?
• Are you willing to accept the possibility of very droopy breasts?

#1: To begin with, the most important question for any patient (regardless of the procedure) is the reason why they are actually interested in that procedure. And that points directly to expectations. Realistic expectations are the foundation for good long-term results and, without them, as a patient you will never be happy. If your expectations are reasonable and you are seeking plastic surgery for the right reasons, then combine that with a well-trained surgeon and your chance for success is very high.

#2: The next question is whether you will truly be happy with less volume. In the case of implant removal, it’s really a decision of where you are in life. Some patients simply decide that a fuller look was nice before but that because of either personal or professional reasons, they simply don’t want the extra volume. A few women are specifically motivated by their professional careers and just find that larger breasts are a distraction to what they do and that they simply get in the way. For others, a more athletic look is the goal and breast implants simply don’t fit that lifestyle.

#3: The last two questions are extremely important. The proverbial Holy Grail of breast augmentation is the achievement of upper pole fullness. This is what 99% of my patients come in asking for. And so when someone asks to have their implants removed, one concern I have is whether they understand that they will lose most or all of this upper pole fullness. Breast tissue tends to involute and decrease in overall size over time and so keep this point in mind.

#4: Finally, the big question is whether or not you are willing to accept the potential for very droopy breasts. Whether or not this will actually occur depends on several factors:
o The amount of breast tissue you started out with
o The size of breast implants that were placed
o Any significant life changes you have encountered since getting breast implants (e.g.: pregnancy, weight loss, aging)
o The overall quality of your breast skin
o Your age and overall health
These factors allow me to estimate the degree of change you can expect initially as well as in the long-term and the potential need for additional procedures (following the removal of your implants) such as a breast lift. For example, if you began with small breasts, had moderate to relatively large implants placed, and were pregnant since your surgery, chances are that you will have a fair amount of laxity and droop to your breasts once we remove your breast implants. A breast lift can help restore some shape and help elevate your nipple position but it will not restore any fullness that you have lost nor will it begin to approximate the look of a lift with an implant. If, however, you began with a moderate amount of breast tissue, had relatively conservative implants placed, and you have never lost a significant amount of weight and have never been pregnant, then you may be very happy with simple removal of the implants without a lift. Once the implants are removed, over time your breast skin will tend to shrink down and may eventually achieve a look that you are very happy with. Again, it all depends on what you started with and what happened after that.

The procedure itself generally takes no more than about 15-30 minutes and is associated with next to no discomfort and very little downtime. Drains are placed but are generally removed a few days after your surgery. I also wrap my patients for a week to two weeks to encourage resolution of swelling and to allow for the tissue to potentially contract more easily.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact my Denver Plastic Surgery office or email me directly ([email protected]). We look forward to working with you.