Breast Implant Removal & Replacement (Capsular Contracture)

By Elena Prousskaia MD, FRCS (Plast), FEBOPRAS

Implant removal and replacement surgery, also known as capsulectomy is a procedure which is undertaken when a breast implant is being replaced and is intended to alleviate discomfort while offering the potential of improving both the feel and appearance of the breasts.

Implants can be replaced for many reasons, including wanting to change the shape or size of the implants, breasts change due to weight loss or gain, age or having children, or if implants rupture.

Breast implants do not have an expiration date. They only need to be replaced in the very rare case whereby they break or rupture, which is usually a result of sub-standard implants or sub-standard surgery. This is not serious or a health risk, but may cause a change in shape or feel of the implant necessitating its removal.

What is breast implant removal and replacement surgery?

Implant removal and replacement surgery, also known as capsulectomy, refers to the removal of the scar tissue or capsule which typically forms around an implant.

It is a procedure which is undertaken when a breast implant is being replaced and is intended to alleviate discomfort while offering the potential of improving both the feel and appearance of the breasts.

The capsule (scar tissue) which forms around the implant is a completely normal reaction to the insertion of a foreign body (the implant) into the breast. There are cases in which the capsule thickens and contracts. This is known as capsular contracture and can make the breasts feel a lot harder. As well as being uncomfortable or painful for an individual, capsular contracture which gets progressively worse can distort the shape of the breasts. A capsulectomy can address issues with the look and feel of the breast, and serve to alleviate the pain.

The procedure can be done for the purpose of a replacement, or as a removal without replacement, reversing a previous breast augmentation procedure.

Is implant removal and replacement surgery for me?

One of the primary reasons to undergo implant removal and replacement surgery is to address complications which have been experienced with breast implants.

These problems can include capsular contracture or infection, which lead a plastic surgeon to recommend the removal of the breast implant.

Implant rupture, deflation or folding are other causes of complications which can lead to the need for implant and removal surgery. The procedure can also be necessary when women experience necrosis or dead tissues developing around the implant, bleeding, or a build-up of calcium.

In some cases, the decision to opt for implant removal and replacement surgery can be a personal choice. Some women might feel that breast implants they received as part of a breast augmentation procedure have given their breasts the wrong size or shape, or the implants have moved into the wrong position due to factors such as pregnancy, weight gain, or weight loss.

How is Implant removal and replacement surgery performed?

Implant removal and replacement surgery is typically performed using the same incisions which were made during the breast augmentation procedure.

During surgery, the capsule which surrounds the implant is taken out, and a new implant is then inserted into this vacant area known as ‘the pocket’. In cases of capsular contracture, patients are typically recommended polyurethane implants as a replacement. That is because, compared to a standard silicone implant, polyurethane implants are accepted as having less risk of capsular contracture. Once the new implants have been inserted, the skin incision can be closed.

Usually implant removal and replacement surgery takes an hour and is performed under a general anaesthetic, which means that the patient is asleep during the procedure. Implant removal and replacement surgery usually requires a one night stay in hospital, although on some occasions the patient is permitted to go home on the same day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risks of implant removal and replacement surgery ?

While complications with implant removal and replacement surgery are infrequent, no surgical procedure is without risks. Among the possible complications are scars, infection, haematoma, implant displacement, breast asymmetry, and rupture.

What is an Implant removal and replacement surgery recovery time ?

It is entirely normal to feel sore and stiff for a few days following implant removal and replacement surgery. During the first 72 hours, when the most discomfort is expected to be felt, pain killers can be administered in order to address the discomfort. Rest is normally recommended for a period of one week following implant removal and replacement surgery. A support bra is usually worn for six weeks after the procedure. Patients can benefit from taking two weeks off work, and after four weeks beginning a gym routine focused on lower body strength. This exercise programme can begin to focus on the upper body after six weeks.

How do I prepare for implant removal and replacement surgery ?

Typically an implant removal and replacement surgery patient will not eat or drink for a six-hour window prior to the procedure. Before entering the operating room, a patient will discuss their agreed form of anaesthesia with their anaesthetist.

Treatment Cost

The total cost of the surgery will be confirmed after the first consultation.

The cost includes the hospital, surgeon and anaesthetic fees. It also covers all post-operative visits. The initial consultation fee will be invoiced separately. The prices apply only at the time of publication and are subject to changes without notification.

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Initial Consultation...

£150

Surgery Costs From...

£6900

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Treatment At A Glance

Surgical Time 2.5 - 3.5 hours
Hospital Stay Over night hospital stay
Initial Recovery Time 4 - 8 weeks
Anaesthetic General anaesthetic
Final Result 3 - 12 months
Follow Up 1, 4, 12 weeks & 1 year

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