Breast Implant Revision: Everything You Need To Know
Have you had breast implants for a while, or do you no longer like the look of your breast implants?
Are you unhappy with the shape or size, or have you had other complications that have affected the look and feel of your breast implants?
Breast revision surgery or breast implant replacement might be a good option for you.
If you want to replace your breast implants, then you should consider a breast implant revision surgery.
There are multiple options for breast revision surgery.
Read on to learn more and see examples of the significant positive changes that a breast implant revision can result in, and how it can make you more happy and comfortable with your overall appearance.
What Is A Breast Implant Revision?
A breast implant revision or breast augmentation revision is a surgery that replaces your old breast implants with new ones, and at the same time, changes or improves the appearance of the breasts.
This can include a lift or reduction, or simply increasing or decreasing the size of the implants.
The reasons for getting a breast implant revision or a breast implant replacement include a desire to change the shape, size, and position of the breasts, a change from saline to silicone or vice versa, or correction of implant related problems such as capsular contracture, or implant leak or rupture.
Sometimes a patient simply desires a more natural look.
Breast implant revisions can also include a lift at the same time to reduce the appearance of sagging breast implants, and/or sagging breast tissue over the implants.
If you’re considering a breast implant revision surgery, keep in mind that this type of breast surgery can be more complex since it not only has to be specifically designed to achieve your goals and desires, but also must deal with any pre-existing complications, scarring, or other issues from your previous breast augmentation surgery.
That’s why a breast implant revision should only be performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon who is experienced with all types of breast enhancement surgery, including breast implant revision surgery.
Your revision surgeon will do a full consultation, including history and exam, photos, and review of outside records if you have any.
Next, they will develop a surgical plan of action that specifically addresses all of your unique issues and goals for the surgery, then review it with you in detail before your breast revision surgery.
Why You Might Consider a Breast Implant Revision?
One reason to get a breast revision is if you are experiencing pain from capsular contracture of your current implants (which will require a capsulotomy or capsulectomy to release the tightness from the scar tissue).
Another reason to get a breast implant revision is that if you want to correct implant asymmetry which occurs when one implant heals differently from the other one.
What’s more, if your breasts were asymmetrical prior to getting implants, you may need a revision surgery to get them as symmetric as possible (but of course, remember that breasts are often “sisters, not twins”).
A breast implant revision may also be recommended if you have symmastia or “uniboob” which brings the breasts too close together in an attempt to build more dramatic cleavage.
Correction of symmastia can sometimes be achieved by working on the capsule in the breast, but other times may require downsizing the implants.
Breast implants can also bottom out, which happens when there is poor tissue elasticity, which causes things to stretch and the implant to fall lower on the chest wall.
Finally, implants can appear to be sitting too high if the capsular contracture distorts the implant position, or if the breast tissue is sagging or cascading off the implant, resulting in an unnatural look.
Alternatively, they can be too widely spaced apart, reducing the amount of cleavage and “falling into the armpits” when you are lying on your back, and possibly creating too much sideboob.
Sometimes the reasons for considering a breast implant revision is based on a personal aesthetic preference, such as the desire to switch to newer silicone implants versus older saline ones because you prefer that look.
Changing to silicone implants can also reduce the amount of visible rippling if that is an issue you see with your saline implants.
Rippling can occur even with silicone implants, and a revision surgery in that case could either move the implants behind the muscle (if they were above the muscle before), and/or change the type of silicone implant to one with more “cohesive” gel (firmer, and less likely to show rippling).
Other reasons might include changes in your breasts, and therefore the appearance of the breast implants, seen after pregnancy, weight loss or gain, or just aging in general.
What You Should Know About Breast Implant Revisions And Breast Implant Replacement?
Breast augmentation can be an extremely complex procedure, with careful attention paid to the look and feel as well as the size and shape of the breast.
Like anything else, the trends in breast augmentation vary over the years and techniques change and improve, so you may be aiming for a different, more updated look with your breast revision.
Breast implants can shift over the years and change shape due to the way that they sit on the body, and implants can even sag like natural breasts.
The overlying breast tissue also changes as you age, if you gain or lose weight, or even from pressure related flattening of the breast tissue seen with extremely large implants This can result in a change in the look and feel that’s different from the original result.
Note that many breast implants typically have a lifetime warranty on the original implant device, but after a certain period with the implants the costs of breast revision surgery or breast implant replacement surgery may no longer be covered.
The amount of time varies depending on the manufacturer.
For instance, Sientra breast implants offer a 20 year warranty, but other manufacturers may limit the warranty to 10 years.
So if you are considering a breast revision and you are within ten years of the original breast augmentation surgery, you may want to act sooner sooner rather than later.
If you have any questions, always consult with your plastic surgeon who can review and help you understand your breast implant warranty and other options.
Who Is a Good Candidate For Breast Implant Revision Surgery?
Breast implant revision surgery is for individuals who have previously had a breast augmentation and are unhappy with their results for various reasons including the shape, size, and overall look and feel of their breasts.
If you are worried about the condition and state of your breast implants, you may also be a candidate for breast augmentation revision surgery.
Breast revisions are meant to fix implant related problems and address any of your aesthetic concerns by replacing the existing implants, and revising the silhouette and other cosmetic details of your breasts.
Good candidates for breast implant revision surgery are physically stable (no active medical issues, at a healthy stable weight, and are nonsmokers).
Your surgeon will be able to assess your current health and determine if a breast implant revision surgery is a good choice for you. You should also consider a breast revision if you have experienced capsular contracture or implant rupture.
It is normal for your body to create a capsule, or soft layer of scar tissue around the breast implant, since it is a foreign body.
Normally this capsule stays soft and you are unaware of it.
If the capsule becomes inflamed and the scar tissue starts contracting, that is when an abnormal process called capsular contracture occurs.
Early on in this process the breast begins to feel firm, and if left untreated, this can lead to more hardening, and even pain and deformity of the breast.
Perhaps importantly, you should keep your expectations for breast implant surgery positive but realistic.
A good plastic surgeon will be able to manage your expectations and help to ensure that you are happy with the results of your breast implant revision.
There may be natural characteristics specific to your body that can affect or limit the results that you can achieve, and your surgeon can discuss this with you during consultation.
If you are considering a breast implant revision, you should spend some time reviewing before and after photos from your plastic surgeon (or even other plastic surgeons, to get a sense of what type of results are common), as well as learning about what to expect during recovery from breast implant replacement surgery and what kind of results you can reasonably achieve.
Being prepared will help you maintain positive but realistic expectations and enjoy an easier recovery process.
During A Breast Lift Consultation: What To Expect
You will be asked a lot of questions during your breast implant revision consultation – and you should come prepared to ask plenty of questions of your own!
Your plastic surgeon will want to know what type of results you hope to achieve with your breast revision, any existing medical condition that you might have, any prescription medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements that you currently take, any drug allergies, and any previous medical treatments or surgeries.
Your doctor will also ask you about any alcohol or drug use.
They will also evaluate your overall health status and discuss any pre-existing conditions or other risk factors.
The physical part of the examination will cover the state of your current breast implants, their size and shape, drooping or sagging, asymmetry of breast volume and nipple position, and the appearance, presence, and condition of scars (such as whether the scars are raised or flat, thin or wide, faded or pink, purple, or brown).
Measurements of your breasts will be taken, including sternal notch to nipple distance, nipple to inframammary fold distance, and breast diameter.
The overall quality of the skin and amount and distribution of breast tissue will also be noted, including things like the thickness and elasticity of your skin.
The surgeon will also take reference photographs of the front, side, and angled views of your breasts.
There will also be a discussion of your options and a recommended surgical plan, taking into account your desired outcomes and potential changes that could be made to the overall appearance of your breasts, along with any possible complications or risks that you should be aware of.
Be sure to bring along a list of your questions about the process that you’ve written beforehand in order to avoid forgetting something during your consultation, especially if you are anxious or excited (or both) or tend to get stressed out by medical procedures in general.
The breast implant revision consultation is when you can and should share all your goals for the outcome – size, shape, profile, and general appearance.
Don’t be afraid to bring pictures of others (whether friends, celebrities or influencers, or even anonymous before and after photos from any plastic surgeon’s website) with your desired silhouette.
Remember, the outcome and safety of your breast implant revision or breast implant replacement surgery depends on your ability to communicate comfortably and honestly with your surgeon.
Questions To Ask Your Plastic Surgeon Before Getting a Breast Implant Revision
Some key questions to ask before you make your final decision to have a breast implant revision or breast lift replacement include but are not limited to: how many years of plastic surgery training have you had, specifically in regard to breast procedures?
What breast implant techniques do you have the most experience in and which ones do you perform the most often?
You should also ask if they have hospital privileges to perform the surgery, and which hospitals or medical facilities they hold privileges at (or if they have their own facility, if it is accredited by a national or state-recognized agency, and how they handle major emergencies that may occur during surgery).
And of course, always verify that your surgeon of choice is board certified in plastic surgery specifically, which means certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
You can also independently verify this on the American Plastic Surgery website.
Other key questions to ask is if they think you are a good candidate or a breast implant revision or breast implant replacement surgery, what surgical techniques they recommend for the best results, and also if your desired results are realistic!
Another important question to ask your surgeon is that if they feel there are any specific limitations to what you are asking for, and why.
It’s also important to ask questions about the recovery period in general, as well as the risks and complications associated with your surgery, and how their practice handles any complications that come up.
You should also ask what they would do if you are not happy with the results of your breast implant revision surgery.
Last but certainly not least, ask to see before and after photos of the breast implant revisions the surgeon personally has performed so you can get a better idea of their skills, and to see if you share the same vision of what is considered beautiful or good result.
How Soon Should Breast Implants Be Replaced?
Breast implants should generally be replaced every ten years or so, but you may need to get them revised or replaced sooner if you have complications like capsular contracture or if you want to change the size, shape, type of implant, or want a lift.
Alternatively, if you are not having any problems at ten years, you do not necessarily need to change them out at that time. The ten year recommendation is a guideline, not an exact time.
It is just important that you know the risk of implants increases every year, and understand that implants are not a lifetime device.
Often at ten years, there is a desire to change something else anyway, such as get a lift or change the size of the implants, so even if you are not experiencing any problems with the implant itself, it tends to be a good time for the revision.
Be aware that if you have silicone implants, the current FDA guideline recommends MRI of your breast implants – 3 years after surgery, then every 2 years to check for silent rupture.
Mammograms are recommended annually starting at age 40 to screen for breast cancer, and are not interchangeable with MRI to check the condition of your implants.
How Long Will A Breast Implant Revision Last?
A breast implant revision can last for years, similar to the first augmentation if there are no complications.
While the changes created with a breast implant revision are permanent, they do not stop your body from aging, or prevent weight and hormone related changes.
Also, patients who have had previous capsular contracture are at a higher risk for recurrence.
Before a Breast Implant Revision
Here is an example of breasts before a breast implant revision.
Often, breast implant revisions are not just cosmetic, they are meant to correct problems like capsular contracture, symmastia, and implant asymmetry.
After a Breast Implant Revision
Here are some examples of breasts after a breast implant revision.
You can see the dramatic difference in the after photos.
The shape and contour of the breasts are improved, and there is more natural and symmetrical look.
Recovery Time For a Breast Implant Revision Surgery
The recovery time for a breast implant revision surgery varies based on the individual, the extent of the surgery being performed, and any other underlying issues or complications.
Immediately following your breast implant revision, you’ll have dressings on your incisions, and typically placed in a soft wrap dressing that will be changed to a super supportive bra at your follow-up visit the next day..You might also have drains with small, thin tubes temporarily placed under the skin in your breasts.
These will drain any excess fluid or blood.
You’ll likely have these drains placed for several days, and you will be given instructions on how to care for the drains and record their output. The output over 24 hours is what determines how quickly they can be removed.
It is generally recommended that you take one week off of work, and avoid strenuous activity or exercise for six weeks, and this guideline should be followed unless your surgeon specifically informs you otherwise.
Your plastic surgeon will supply you with information on how to care for your incisions in the days following your surgery, and any medications or antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection and help to promote healing.
You will be given prescription painkillers to take as necessary, although as your breast revision healing process progresses, you may be able to rely on over the counter medications – but always check with your doctor before you take anything new, even for over the counter medications or supplements.
Make sure you have any necessary prescriptions filled before surgery.
After all, the last thing you’ll want to do while you’re recovering is worry about getting your meds!
You’ll also be advised if there are any specific changes or things you should be concerned about at the surgical site or incisions, as well as your general health.
Of course, you’ll have a follow-up appointment the day after surgery, and several follow-up appointments scheduled thereafter to check on how you and your new breast implants are healing, and to get any additional follow-up care recommendations or scar therapies that may be recommended to optimize your results.
What To Know Your Breast Implant Revision Surgery
Before your surgery, make sure that you have someone at home ready to take care of you for at least a few days.
Your surgeon can also give you their best idea as to whether or not you’ll have drains after the surgery, but that may change depending on how things go and any findings during surgery.
When it is time to go home, your surgeon will advise you as to when you can shower or bathe.
The typical time you’ll have to wait before showering if you don’t have drains is forty-eight hours; if you have drains placed, you’ll need to take sponge baths until the drains come out, then wait twenty-hours after drain removal to shower.
You should be able to walk the same day as your surgery, but full exercise has to wait until six weeks post-op.
Note that you will be unable to lift heavy objects for some time post breast implant revision, so keep in mind that is required for your daily life or work.
This includes things lifting your small children, if applicable, so you want to ensure you have appropriate help. If you are traveling in for surgery, make sure someone assists you with your luggage, including placing carryon luggage in the overhead compartment, when traveling home.
It will likely take several weeks for the swelling to decrease, during which you should make sure to follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions and go to your scheduled follow-up visits.
Breast Revision Surgery After Reconstruction
If you’ve had a breast reconstruction surgery after breast cancer, your surgeon will understand how sensitive you may be about the appearance of your breasts and can help you determine the best course of action to achieve the best possible outcome.
Revision of reconstructed breasts is a normal part of the breast reconstruction journey, and each subsequent surgery is designed to enhance the appearance following your original breast reconstruction surgery.
The reconstruction process can have a large impact on feeling whole, your self-esteem, confidence, and overall quality of life.
There are several reasons for getting a breast revision surgery after an initial reconstruction.
For instance, perhaps you developed complications over time, like a ruptured implant, a capsular contracture, You could also need a breast revision if your previous attempt failed completely due to complications like an infection that required your breast implants to be removed in order to protect your health.
Finally, your original reconstruction may just have left you with undesirable cosmetic results.
If you’re looking into getting a breast revision surgery after a breast reconstruction, it is particularly essential that you find a board certified plastic surgeon who has a significant amount of experience with breast reconstructions and breast reconstruction revisions.
Breast revisions after a reconstruction and mastectomy should also be customized to your individual needs; note that your options will depend on the original reconstruction results and any complications that you experienced.
Sometimes, rebuilding the breast may involve taking a flap of tissue from another part of your body (usually the belly or back area, or the gluteal area) if there is lost skin or tissue damage from radiation.
Commonly, whether with implant based reconstruction or flap based reconstruction, fat transfer is performed to make your results even better.
Fat is harvested by performing liposuction on another area of the body, preparing the fat, and injecting it around the breast in efforts to improve symmetry, or smooth out contour irregularities such as rippling from an implant, or discrepancies in size and shape.
Breast Augmentation Revision In Order To Go Bigger
There are lots of reasons to have a breast augmentation revision surgery, and one of them might just be because you want to go up a cup size or two.
This can often be accomplished depending on the state of your current breasts.
There are times when patients feel like they chose implants that are too small for their frame the first time around, which means a breast implant replacement surgery with larger or even differently shaped implants can achieve the results they want.
If you feel like your breast implants are too small after the swelling has gone down and they’ve settled into position, then speak to your plastic to see what your options are for a breast augmentation revision to increase their size.
Breast pocket revision surgery is often used to during a second augmentation in order to increase the size of the “pocket” that the implant sits in.
Higher profile implants can also create a larger (more projected) look, because they cause the breast implants to extend further from the chest wall.
Higher profile implants are narrower and can work better on women with smaller rib cages since they won’t extend out to the armpits, while lower profile implants can look more natural on women with wider rib cages since they cover more of the chest area.
Risks Of Getting A Second Breast Augmentation
Of course, any surgical procedure carries the risk of complications.
One of the risks of getting a second breast augmentation include capsular contracture, especially if you experienced capsular contracture the first time around.
Also, generally speaking the larger the implants, the larger the chance of problems, so make sure you understand and are willing to accept the chance of needing additional surgery should any issues arise.
Other risks or potential complications include breast pain or discomfort, increased tightness sensation, breast implants moving out of their correct position (malposition), increased stretch and pressure on your natural tissues and ribcage, and the chance of needing revisional surgery.
If you experience any of the symptoms or have any other concerns after your breast implant revision surgery, contact your plastic surgeon as soon as possible.
Preparing For A Breast Augmentation Or Breast Revision
Before you get a breast augmentation or breast revision, you should ensure that you have adequate time off work, child care coverage if applicable, and a comfortable spot at home to rest.
Your spouse, family, or friends will need to help you out with certain tasks for some time, so plan to take it easy.
You should also fill any prescriptions before the surgery – since the last thing you’ll want to do is be hunting down medications when you are sore and in pain.
After A Breast Revision Surgery Or Breast Augmentation Replacement
Everyone heals differently, and it will take several weeks or even months before the swelling goes down and your breasts drop into their final position after a breast revision.
It may also take a while for the scars to fade depending on how well and quickly your skin tends to heal, and normal feeling and sensation in your breasts will take a fair amount of time following your breast revision surgery.
Your plastic surgeon can help answer your questions and address your concern about healing time both pre- and post-op.
Please note successful results do require your participation in post-op care and activity restrictions.
The Cost Of Breast Implant Replacement Surgery
The cost of a breast implant replacement varies depending on what type of breast revision needs to be performed, your surgeon’s level of experience, your geographic location, and any other individual issues that you’d like to have addressed.
Depending on your health insurance policy and any problems or complications with your initial breast implants, a portion of your breast revision surgery may be covered.
The warranty on your first set of breast implants may also cover some of the associated costs of your breast revision, especially if you get the breast implant revision within ten years of your original surgery.
Finally, many plastic surgeons offer financing plans in the case that health insurance or your warranty doesn’t cover everything, so always be sure to inquire about the possibility of getting financing via your surgeon in order to cover a breast revision.
What do the costs of a breast implant replacement surgery or a breast implant revision cover?
Typically, there is the surgeon’s fee, the costs of the implants themselves, fees for the anesthesia and anesthesiologist, and the operating room facility fee.
Other fees associated with this surgery include the costs for medical tests, any imaging studies if needed, the costs of Arnica and bromelain (the recommended herbal anti-inflammatory medications) and the specialized post-surgery garments that you’ll need to wear.
Keep in mind that you will also need to take time off work and your other activities like gym memberships while you’re recovering as well.
It’s important to remember that when you’re choosing a board certified plastic surgeon for breast implant revision – or any other plastic surgery – the surgeon’s experience, talent, and most importantly, your comfort with them are equally as essential to consider as the price of the surgery.