Breast Implant Removal: Procedure, What To Expect, Recovery & Cost

Following a breast augmentation, it is possible to undergo breast implant removal surgery for medical or personal reasons. An implant is completely removed during the surgery or may be replaced with one of a different size.

Depending on the size of the implant and the duration for which you’ve had them, you may also experience sagging skin after the removal of the implant. That is why some women combine breast implant removal with other surgical procedures to contour the body.

What Is Breast Implant Removal?

Breast implant removal, also known as explant surgery, involves the removal of the silicone or saline implants and any scar tissue around them. The breast explant surgery may be followed by an implant replacement surgery. There are different reasons why a person may consider removing breast implants. These are as follows:

  • The implant has leaked.
  • There’s calcification of the surface of the implants.
  • The implants have potentially resulted in the development of rare health complications.
  • There’s a painful and firm capsule of scar tissue around the implant.
  • The implant is shifting and moving.

Keep in mind that although breast implants have no expiry date, they usually last anywhere between 10-20 years, so they would have to be replaced eventually. Over the years, many women experience lifestyle changes, such as fluctuations in their weight or pregnancy, which may be the reason why they want breast implant removal.

Who Is A Good Candidate for Explant Surgery?

You can benefit from an implant removal in the following instances:

  • You’re experiencing health problems.
  • You’re experiencing different aches and pains because of the large size of the implants.
  • You are in good health and have a healthy lifestyle.
  • You want to change the appearance of your breasts.
  • Your implant has ruptured.

How To Best Prepare for Breast Implant Removal?

Before undergoing an implant removal surgery, you may need to do the following:

  • Get diagnostic tests and medical assessments.
  • Stop taking any blood-thinning medicines or supplements.
  • Quit smoking and the consumption of other tobacco products.
  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Do not consume anything after midnight.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing to the clinic.
  • Remove any jewellery or piercing.

What Is the Breast Implant Removal Procedure?

Breast implant removal surgery can take place under local or general anaesthesia. Local anaesthesia may be preferred in those cases where there are no health complications like capsular contracture.

After the anaesthesia takes effect, the surgeon is likely to use the original incision sites through which the implants were first placed. An incision will be made underneath the breasts (inframammary) or below/around the nipples.

Once the incisions are made, the surgeon will address the different concerns. If the implant is ruptured, the leaked silicone will be removed. If there’s a capsule, the surgeon may perform an “en bloc capsulectomy.”

In this, the entire capsule, along with the implant, is removed. Depending on the size of the incision and the grade of the capsular contracture, they may also consider removing the implant first and then the capsule.

Breast Lift or Fat Grafting After Implant Removal 

If you’re considering a breast lift (mastopexy) or fat grafting after the removal of a saline implant, the surgeon may show you what your breasts will look like by deflating the implant inside the body.

If you decide to go ahead with a breast lift, excess skin and tissue will be removed. However, in the case that you want a fat transfer, liposuction will first extract fat from the abdomen or thighs. The fat cells are purified and transferred to the breasts. Or you can have the current implants replaced with different ones.

The skin is then stitched back up. How long breast implant removal surgery takes depends on the complexity of the procedure and whether or not you had any additional procedures, but you can expect it to be anywhere between 1-3 hours.

What Will  Boobs Look Like After Explant?

After the breast implants are removed, the shape, size and appearance of your breasts will change. Your breast will change depending on:

  • Implant Size: If the size of the implant is large, it will stretch the skin more than a smaller implant. So, the larger the size of the implant, the more it will affect the appearance of your breasts after their removal.
  • Breast Size: The natural size of your breasts also matters. If you have naturally smaller breasts, your breasts won’t be affected significantly because of limited skin and tissue.
  • Age & Life Changes: Our skin loses elasticity as we age, so the older you are, the more significant the change in the breasts will be. Additionally, weight gain or hormonal changes accompanying menopause and pregnancy can also affect how breasts look after explant.

Keep in mind it’s not always possible to predict the exact changes that your breasts will experience. After the implant removal, your breasts may sag and look asymmetrical. There may also be indentations on the skin. You should not expect the skin to “snap back” and breasts to take the shape that they originally had. You will only be able to see the final results 6-12 months after the surgery once the swelling has subsided.

What Is Breast Implant Removal Recovery?

You may have to take 1 week off following the breast explant surgery. Usually, women are able to resume their normal activities (going to the gym or lifting heavy objects) after 4-6 weeks.

However, during the breast implant removal recovery, it is important that you do not engage in any strenuous activity as it can put a strain on the surgical wound and even cause wound dehiscence. Although you can do light walking after some time as the blood circulation can help with healing.

You may have to sleep on your back for a few weeks and even wear a compression garment. Some people also have surgical drains, which collect the excess fluid and blood. Keep in mind that the healing time can vary depending on your age, anatomy, skin, surgical technique, and lifestyle. It’s important that you eat healthily and take care of yourself.

What To Expect After Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

After breast explant, you may experience the following side effects temporarily:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Soreness
  • Discomfort (also in areas from where the fat was extracted)
  • Change in nipple sensation

You will experience these side effects for a few weeks after surgery. Your surgeon may prescribe you painkillers, antibiotics and anti-swelling tablets for their management. Make sure to take the medicines as prescribed.

It is important that in order to have a breast implant removal surgery, you find a qualified and experienced surgeon as it can minimise the risk of more serious complications. For instance, any problems with the surgery can increase the risk of infection. Your pain and swelling will worsen. Additionally, there’s be oozing of pus from the surgical wound. You need to get in touch with a doctor immediately if that happens.

The risk of seroma formation also decreases with an experienced surgeon. It can happen rarely as a result of the empty space left behind after the removal of the implant. Fluid can fill up in it. Usually, a compression garment is given for its prevention.

How Much Is Breast Implant Removal?

You may be able to get breast explant surgery on the NHS or health insurance if you have developed a health complication like capsular contracture or implant rupture/leakage. However, it would rarely be available for cosmetic reasons only.

In the UK, breast implant removal surgery can cost anywhere between £4,000 and £5,500. But there may be variations in the cost depending on the complexity of the surgery, the location of the clinic and the experience of the surgeon.

Breast Implant Recall: Who Pays For Removal?

If the implant by a certain manufacturer has been recalled due to safety or health risks, it is likely that they won’t pay for the breast implant surgery. Some clinics can remove the recalled implants for free, while others will cost you, for which you’ll have to pay privately.

You may be able to get the implants removed through your health insurance if it’s “medically necessary.” It is also possible for you to avail of free breast implant removal on the NHS if there has been a recall. However, the NHS may not place replace the old implants with new ones if it’s for cosmetic purposes. Although if you had the implant fitted on the NHS, it is possible for you to get a replacement surgery.


Although breast augmentation is very popular with a high satisfaction rate, some women may want to remove implants due to personal or medical reasons. The implant removal will change the appearance of your breasts. That is why some people decide to have a breast lift or fat grafting procedure (fat transfer to boobs) following the removal of the implants.

You can also have your old implants replaced by a new one of a different size, shape, and texture. In any case, it is important that you follow the aftercare instructions of your surgeon. If you aren’t recovering normally, you should get help immediately.

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