Breast augmentation surgery is a standard cosmetic procedure in the UK. However, despite this popularity, there are situations where you may want or need to remove your breast implants. Every person has a unique reason to have their breast implants removed, with each procedure requiring a unique approach. Whether you’ve changed your mind or are experiencing complications, breast implant removal surgery offers a safe and effective way of removing breast implants.

Breast Implant Removal: Quick Overview

breast implant removal
Breast implant removal

What is Breast Implant Removal?

Breast implant removal, also known as explant surgery,  is the surgical process of taking out breast implants. During the procedure, the plastic surgeon makes an incision in the scar tissue capsule to remove the breast implant leaving the scar capsule in place. 

Usually, the scar capsule breaks down or dissolves naturally over time. However, this procedure only works for those with thin scar tissue capsules that can break down easily. Each breast removal procedure is unique; sometimes, the surgeon may remove the implant and the scar tissue altogether. 

When To Consider Breast Implant Removal?

While breast implants don’t expire, their life span is limited. It is vital that you have your breast implants removed or exchanged every 10 to 15 years. But there are other reasons you may choose breast implant removal surgery.

In some cases, breast implants are removed and replaced. This is known as breast re-augmentation. This involves either increasing or decreasing the size of the initial implants years after breast augmentation surgery. For many women, ageing, weight loss, and childbirth can lead to changes that require the implants removed and replaced with either larger or smaller ones. Breast implant removal without replacement removes the implants fully. 


Implant removal, capsulectomy, breast re-augmentation - the Harley Clinic

Another common reason why breast implant removal is done is when scar tissue forms around the implants and hardens. This often leads to pain and discomfort and may even alter the appearance of the implants. The condition is referred to as capsular contracture.

You might also require breast implant removal surgery due to:

  1. Breast implant leakage
  2. Calcium deposit build-up around one or both implants
  3. Body’s autoimmune response to the implants
  4. Tissue death or necrosis around the implant
  5. Shifting of one or both implants
  6. Breast implant-related pain
  7. Breast seroma 
  8. Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
  9. Breast implant illness (BII) 

During breast removal surgery, some women may opt to have the breast implants removed and not replaced. Some also opt for breast implant removal and uplift, especially if the appearance of the breasts has changed over time. During such a procedure, the surgeon removes the old implants and replaces them with bigger or smaller implants or the same size implants. They may also perform procedures like a breast lift to give you more firm breasts.

Types Of Breast Implant Removal Procedures

The surgeon’s approach during a breast explantation surgery depends on the case. Here are approaches the surgeon may take during the procedure:

Breast Implant Removal with Total Capsulectomy

Usually, a scar tissue capsule forms after breast augmentation surgery. During breast implant removal surgery, the surgeon removes the breast implants plus the scar tissue capsule in one or multiple pieces.

Breast re-augmentation and removal of breast implant rupture

Breast Implant Removal with En Bloc Capsulectomy

En bloc capsulectomy is a more complex procedure when breast implants rupture. During en bloc capsulectomy, the surgeon must carefully remove the implants and the scar tissue capsule in one piece.

Breast Implant Removal with Breast Lift

Breast implant removal and lift is a standard procedure in the UK. Most women choose this procedure to tighten stretched tissues left behind because of factors like age, pregnancy and breastfeeding. The surgeon removes the breast implants and excess skin and then reshapes the breast tissue.

If needed, the surgeon might also reposition the areolas and nipples. Usually, your breasts will be flat after breast implant removal. So, it’s common to combine breast implant removal with a breast lift. 

Before and after hybrid breast augmentation, breast implant removal, breast fat transfer, and uplift at The Harley Clinic, London

An experienced plastic surgeon performs that procedure at a plastic surgery centre, hospital, or other operating room facilities. You will have an initial cosmetic surgery consultation with your surgeon to discuss the procedure and what goals you want to accomplish.

This is also a time to ask questions and address any concerns you may have regarding the procedure. It’s advisable to ask for breast implant removal before and after photos to get a glimpse of what your results could look like. If you are just having your implants removed without replacing them with others, ask to see breast implant removal without replacement photos and combined procedures.

Whatever reason you are having your implants removed, the procedure follows the same steps: 

  • The surgeon begins by administering general anaesthesia.
  • Next, they make an incision around the areola or under the breast. Usually, your plastic surgeon will try to minimise scarring by making an incision around the original incision following your augmentation procedure.
  • Breast implants are removed from the capsule, and the surgeon may sometimes remove the scar capsule too.
  • The surgeon closes the incisions and covers the areas as required.

You will be under pain medications and must wear a compression garment as you recover from the surgery. After the surgery, someone should drive you home and stay with you at least for the first night.

What To Expect After Breast Implant Removal?

Immediately after breast implant removal, your surgeon will dress the wound in gauze and place drains to remove fluid and blood from the incision site as you heal. The doctor will also provide appropriate compression garments like a supportive bra to aid recovery.

After breast implant removal, side effects are common. It’s normal to experience swelling, pain and discomfort after the surgery. Moving your upper body or arms around will also be challenging, but this should improve in a few weeks.

Breast Implant Removal Recovery

Recovery differs from one person to another and depends on the complexity of the procedure. For instance, breast implant removal without replacement recovery time is longer since it involves several procedures like a breast lift.       

Soreness, tenderness and sensitivity are common as you recover from breast implant explantation surgery. While recovery differs based on the procedure, the recovery time generally takes 6 weeks. You may return to light activities after 3 to 4 weeks, but you must avoid certain rigorous activities for the next 6 weeks, including: 

  • Heavy lifting
  • Exercising except for light walks around the house
  • Sleeping on your side or stomach

At the 6-week mark, you will need to go for a post-op appointment where your surgeon may or may not clear you for exercise or other activities. Also, 2 to 3 weeks after the procedure, you will need to wear a compression bra during the day and when sleeping to minimise swelling and allow the new breasts to take shape.

Breast Implant Removal Risks and Complications

Potential breast implant removal risks and side effects include:

  • Infection 
  • Bleeding 
  • Hematoma
  • Anaesthesia risks 
  • Skin and or fat/necrosis 
  • Fluid accumulation 
  • Pain 
  • Swelling 
  • Poor wound healing
  • Poor scarring 
  • Nerve injury 
  • Contour irregularity
  • Seroma
  • Asymmetry
  • DVT
  • PE
  • Chest infection
  • Changing in nipple sensation 
  • Breast shape irregularities

Breast Implant Removal UK: Results to Expect

Results after breast implant removal are different for every woman. However, the shape and condition of the breast after the surgery will depend on:

  • The size of your breasts before augmentation
  • The size of the breast implants
  • Changes the body has gone through after breast implant surgery

Women with smaller implants will experience less drooping or sagging. On the other hand, larger implants cause the skin to stretch more, leading to more pronounced sagging. In addition, older women and women who’ve undergone significant hormonal and weight changes will have less skin elasticity.

If you want large implants removed and are concerned with sagging and drooping, the surgeon may recommend a breast implant removal procedure with a breast lift.              

Before and After Breast Implant Removal

Breast implant removal and fat transfer from tummy and thighs

Breast Implant Removal Patient Reviews

Breast implant removal and breast lift review, Dr Riaz Agha, The Harley Clinic London

Breast Implant Removal Cosmetic Surgery London at The Harley Clinic

World-class facilities, caring and compassionate high-quality care are the foundations on which the Harley Clinic, London, is built. We offer breast surgery, including breast augmentation and breast implant removal. 

If you’re concerned with your breast implants, book a consultation where you can ask questions and address any problems you may have. Also, get in touch with our Harley Street practice by sending an email to [email protected] or calling us on 0203 582 4947.