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Breast Revision FAQ: Your Complete Guide

Posted June 17, 2024 in Breast Revision

Cropped shot of a woman holding a silicone breast implant shells in her hands

Breast implants typically last 10 to 15 years before a revision is necessary, and regular check-ups are crucial during this period. Breast revision surgery encompasses implant upgrades but can also address various complications that may arise. This blog will delve into common issues with breast implants, signs that might indicate a need for revision, and the surgical techniques employed in breast revision surgery.

6 Min Read:

What Is Breast Revision Surgery?

Worldwide, breast augmentation is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures, resulting in many satisfied, more confident patients.

That said, breast implants don’t last forever. Silicone and saline implants need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years. In some cases, implants must be removed or replaced due to complications. 

Breast revision surgery, also known as breast implant revision or breast implant removal, is a secondary surgery that aims to revise or correct issues from a previous or primary breast augmentation. It involves replacing old implants with new ones. Whether it’s an exchange for fresh implants or the correction of a complication, breast revision surgery is the solution. 

What Issues Does Breast Revision Address?

You may schedule a breast revision simply because you believe, and your doctor is in agreement, that your implants have been in long enough and you’re due for a switch. However, there are a variety of issues that may benefit from a breast revision sooner than the implant’s expected lifetime runs out.

Capsular Contracture

One of the most common complications with breast implants, capsular contracture, is an immune response where the body rejects foreign materials that have been surgically inserted. During recovery, a natural scar capsule forms around the implant to keep it in place. With capsular contracture, this natural capsule tightens around the implant and becomes unusually hard.

Implant Rupture 

Implant rupture occurs as a result of weakened implant folds or trauma to the implant. In these cases, a hole or tear develops in the implant, and it may start to leak. This occurs more in older implants but is also possible in newer ones. Saline implants leak very quickly, and the salt water is absorbed into the body, causing the breast to look deflated. Silicone implants leak more slowly and require an MRI to diagnose. 

Implant Malposition

Implant malposition is when implants move out of the breast pocket, causing the breasts to look distorted or asymmetrical. There are various types of malposition, including high (the breasts sit too high on the chest), lateral (the breasts are positioned towards the sides of your chest), low (breasts bottom out or sink below the inframammary fold), and symmastia (the breasts fuse and form a “uni-boob” in the middle of the chest). Malposition can also cause rippling or make the implant visible or palpable under the skin. 

Lifestyle Changes

Breast shape can be affected by lifestyle changes such as pregnancy, weight fluctuations, and aging.

Style Preferences

It’s also possible that a patient may simply have a preference change. They may want to go bigger or smaller after some time has passed. Some patients may wish to upgrade to one of the newer breast implant technologies available.

What Are the Signs I Need a Breast Revision?

If it hasn’t been 10 years since your initial breast augmentation, you may be unsure whether or not you need a breast revision. There are telltale signs that you may want to schedule a consultation with a qualified surgeon to discuss whether a breast revision is right for you.

  • Your breast implants are causing pain or discomfort. This can indicate capsular contracture, rupture or leaking, a developing seroma, damaged lymph nodes, pinched nerves, or poor implant placement. Whatever the cause, persistent pain or discomfort is not normal. Schedule an appointment with your surgeon right away.
  • Your breast implant has ruptured. This is not a life-threatening condition, but a ruptured implant should be removed to prevent further complications, such as infection.
  • You notice movement or rotation. While it’s normal for the implants to settle slightly over time, a dramatic shift in location on the chest wall is not normal. You might notice that the nipple has moved upward due to implant displacement. A round implant moving may be hard to see, but a teardrop-shaped implant that has moved can look unnatural. 
  • You notice a change in the shape of your implant. This can mean the implant has ruptured, shifted, rotated, bottomed out, or displaced. This often only happens to one breast, causing asymmetry that can give the patient emotional distress. 
  • You are dissatisfied with your breast size. Sometimes, patients wish they had gotten larger or smaller implants. Breast revision can address this, but most surgeons will recommend you wait a full year for your body to heal and your implants to settle.

What Surgical Techniques Are Used In Breast Revision?

There are a variety of surgical techniques involved in a breast revision procedure, depending on the individual and her circumstances. Any of the following may be used in a breast revision:

  • Implant removal can be performed if the patient no longer desires implants. 
  • Implant exchange or upgrade involves replacing existing implants with new ones as part of regular maintenance every 10 to 15 years. 
  • Capsulotomy releases pressure from the scar tissue in the breasts, usually with an incision in the capsule.
  • Capsulectomy involves removing the breast implant as well as all or part of the scar tissue capsule and then replacing the implant with a new one.
  • Capsulorrhaphy repairs a breast pocket that may have stretched, torn, or is otherwise too big for the implants. 
  • Breast lift (mastopexy) may be combined with many of the above procedures to create an attractive lift and shape.

What Is Breast Revision Recovery Like?

Recovery from this procedure is generally similar to or more straightforward than recovery from your initial breast augmentation. After about a week, you should be able to return to work and other normal activities. You can expect to avoid strenuous activities for six to eight weeks. 

The most crucial aspect of a smooth recovery is carefully following your surgeon’s instructions. This guidance is designed to ensure your safety and the best possible outcome. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Your surgeon and their team are there to support you. Attend follow-up visits, and don’t hesitate to call your surgeon’s office if you have any questions or concerns.

What Are the Risks Involved With Breast Revision?

As with any surgery, there are risks involved with breast revision. These include but are not limited to anesthesia complications, bleeding, infection, and scarring. 

Be sure to address any questions with your surgeon during your consultation appointment before the date of surgery.

Interested in Breast Revision In Birmingham, AL?

If you’re considering breast implant removal or upgrades or are unsure whether you need a breast revision, we’re here to help. Use our online contact form to schedule a consultation with Dr. Grotting, or call us at (205) 930-1600. We look forward to hearing from you!