Breast Implant Removal

While most women who have breast augmentation or a breast lift with implants are extremely happy with their results, there are some who want to have their implants removed. As a specialist in breast enhancement surgery, Dr. Craig Colville supports each woman’s right to decide what’s right for her own body. He performs explant surgery, often called breast implant removal, in Toledo, Ohio, to help women restore peace of mind and a sense of confidence about their breasts.

Why do women have their breast implants removed?

Women consider breast implant removal for reasons that range from cosmetic to medical such as:

  • Some patients decide that their breasts are too large, and they now want smaller breasts
  • Older implants have become firm or uncomfortable
  • Breasts are lax or uneven due to aging, weight changes, or pregnancy
  • Complications occur, such as capsular contracture or implant malposition
  • Implant rupture (see photos)
  • Changes in self-image or lifestyle have developed (see photos)
  • Concern about breast implant illness (BII), a range of symptoms but not a diagnosable condition
  • Concern about BIA-ALCL (breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma), a rare cancer of the capsule, not the breast. (This is only a potential issue for patients with textured breast implants. There are no confirmed cases of BIA-ALCL in patients with smooth implants.)

Whatever the reason, Dr. Colville is happy to discuss and support each woman’s wishes during a private consultation. Sometimes, patients choose to have him replace their implants through revision breast augmentation surgery. In this case, Dr. Colville can use the same size and type of breast implants or make any desired changes.

Examples of Implants Removed by Dr. Colville

Healthy implants removed for personal reasons

“Healthy” implants removed for personal reasons

Textured silicone gel implant right failure

Textured silicone gel implant right failure

Saline: right implant failed

Saline: right implant failed

Why should I choose an experienced surgeon for breast implant removal?

Breast implant removal is typically a more complex surgery than breast augmentation because of scar tissue, called the capsule, that naturally forms around the implant. In most cases this scar tissue is thin and soft; however, sometimes it becomes thick and firm. The scar may adhere to muscle and tissues within the chest and can be difficult to remove. Older silicone implants may have leaked into the capsule, or infection may have developed.

How are breast implants removed?

Dr. Colville usually performs implant removal as an outpatient procedure using a general anesthetic. He places the incisions at the site of the original breast augmentation whenever possible. The technique he uses depends on the patient’s unique circumstances and goals (see table).

Explant Surgery Techniques

TechniqueHow It’s DoneBenefits
SimpleThe implant is removed, leaving the capsule in place.Least complicated surgery. Fastest recovery.
Partial capsulectomyThe back portion of the capsule (along the chest wall or muscle) is left in place, while the front portion and implant are removed.Prevents damage to the ribs, chest muscle, or lungs if the capsule is difficult to remove.
Total capsulectomyThe entire capsule is removed, possibly in pieces, along with the implant.Allows the pocket to close up and heal.
En blocThe implant and capsule are removed together as one.Minimizes contamination in the case of infection, cancer, or silicone implant rupture. Allows the pocket to close up and heal.

Once the implant and capsule are removed, Dr. Colville irrigates the empty pocket with an antibiotic solution to prevent infection. After a total or en bloc capsulectomy, he inserts surgical drains to prevent the build-up of fluid while the empty space heals.

What happens to the capsule if it is not removed?

The capsule is basically naturally forming scar tissue that forms around the implant. If it is thin and soft, it can stay in place. If the capsule is firm or tight or thick, the patient has BIA-ALCL, there is fluid around the implant, or capsular contracture has occurred, Dr. Colville will remove the capsule, allowing the space in the breast (pocket) to heal closed.

How long does it take to recover from breast implant removal surgery?

Most patients return to work and their everyday activities within a week after a simple implant removal. Typically, there is less discomfort after this procedure than after the initial breast implant surgery. Return to work and everyday activities after a total capsulectomy is between one and three weeks.

What happens to the breasts after implant removal?

After explant surgery, the breasts will not look the same as before the original breast implant surgery. Breasts usually look deflated because the breast skin and tissues were changed by aging, gravity, and sometimes by the volume or weight of the implants. Breast lift surgery can improve breast shape by tightening the skin and surrounding tissue.

If you are considering having your breast implants removed, request a consultation using our online form to meet with Dr. Colville or call (419) 534-6551 to schedule an appointment. Women come to his practice in Toledo for breast implant removal from Sandusky, Findlay, Lima, and Defiance, OH, as well as the Ann Arbor, MI, region.

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