What’s the Story on Breast Implant Removal?
It looks like the tide may have turned when it comes to patients seeking oversized body parts like buttocks, lips and breasts. There just don’t seem to be as many stories of extreme plastic surgery in the media as there were even a few years ago.
The trend toward more natural looking breasts is especially noteworthy, and it means some patients are removing breast implants they chose decades, years or even months ago. Just this week, NBC’s Today website ran a story about women opting for breast implant removal in a procedure plastic surgeons call “explantation.”
What reasons do women have for choosing the procedure? Just how popular IS breast implant removal? And how do patients feel after surgery? Here’s what we’ve learned in our research and from our own New York breast implant removal patients.
Choosing Breast Implant Removal
There are several reasons why women opt for explantation—most relate to some type of discomfort with size. Some people’s feelings are oriented toward physical concerns—they may experience back or neck pain or they may notice their implants heading southward as their skin ages. (A few choose breast implant removal due to complications from breast augmentation.) Others find large breasts to be more of a psychological challenge. Some don’t want to have an attention-getting profile as they age. Others are tired of searching for clothes that are appropriate. Many women say they liked the look of larger breasts at first, but just don’t feel that they want or need them any longer.
A percentage of women have their existing breast implants removed and replaced with new models. Some decide to go smaller; some change from saline breast implants to silicone-filled implants. But a surprising number of patients choose not to have implants at all any longer.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) began tracking explantation statistics in 2015. That year, more than 38,000 women in the U. S. chose to have their breast implants removed. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t show how many of the 38,000 chose new implants, elected a breast lift performed at the same time as explantation or simply had their implants taken out.
Interestingly, also in 2015 breast lift surgery, or mastopexy, ranked in the top five procedures for women for the first time. According to the ASAPS, nearly 150,000 women underwent mastopexy that year, whether following explantation or not.
The Sag Factor
When considering breast implant removal, New York women and patients we talk to online are most concerned about how much their breasts will sag. As you might expect, the degree of post-explantation sag each woman will experience varies quite a bit. Considerations involved include the age of the patient and her skin quality, the size of the implants and the length of time she’s had them.
We can get a pretty accurate preview of the “sag factor” during an office consultation. We also discuss all the options with each patient in light of what we anticipate her post-op appearance will be. We have utilized various strategies to meet patients’ goals, including replacing old implants, performing a breast lift and waiting to see the results of explantation and how the patient feels then. A second procedure to lift the tissues is always an option.
If you visit the RealSelf site, where patients rate the “worth it” value of their procedure, you’ll find that explantation earns more than a 95% approval rating. That’s a big number—outstripping the approval rating of almost all other cosmetic procedures on the site.
In the case of statistics like these, there’s much the numbers don’t reveal. And that’s probably as it should be. Each woman is unique, and every explantation surgery should be planned with that in mind. A talented, board certified plastic surgeon will tailor his or her strategy to each patient’s physique and her particular needs.
We perform breast implant removal for New York women, and as experts in treating female and male breasts for more than three decades, we’re ready for just about any challenge you may want to present us. Send us an email and tell us what you have in mind.