Mr Omar Tillo
Consultant Plastic Surgeon
After a period of roughly 10 to 15 years, women will often seek out a breast implant replacement.
Capsular contracture can often be a reason for wanting implant replacement. This is where the internal scarring forms around the implant. This is a normal response from the body to a foreign object (the implant). Generally, the scarring will help to keep the implant in place. For more people, this will occur and they will be unaware of it happening. However, in some instances, capsular contracture will occur when the scarring puts pressure on the implant. This can cause the implant to appear misshapen or can even cause physical pain or discomfort.
Others may not experience capsular contracture, but simply want to change the appearance of their implants. Naturally ageing, as well as pregnancy, can alter how the breasts and the body appear. This may mean that the implants no longer suit. Replacing your implants will allow you to choose a new shape and size of implants to help achieve your desired look.
To be suitable to have breast implant replacement, you will need to be experiencing capsular contracture or be unhappy with the size or shape of your current implants. Those who are wishing to have smaller, natural breasts may choose to opt for implant removal instead of replacement. In the case of implant removal, you may also need to undergo an uplift to avoid having any sagging skin or drooping breasts.
While breast implants generally need replacing after 10 to 15 years, if you are not experiencing any medical issues, it may not be necessary for you to undergo a breast implant replacement.
Those who undergo breast implant replacement will also need to be:
Prior to surgery, you will have a consultation with one of the surgeons, where you will be able to discuss your reasoning for wanting implant replacement, as well as the size, shape and placement of your new implants.
The breast implant replacement surgery will take place under a general anaesthetic known as ClearSleep™. You will be asleep throughout the procedure.
Your existing scars from your first breast augmentation will be used for the incision position, so you will have no new scars. Your implant will need to be placed in front of or behind the muscle. Generally, your implant will be placed back into the pocket that was previously made for it. However, if you have issues such as capsular contracture, or you are able to feel the edges of the implant, a new pocket may be made.
You will be able to increase or decrease the size of the implants. If you are looking to increase, the maximum size will depend on how much tissue and skin is available. If you choose implants which are too large, the edges of the implant may be visible after surgery. If you decide to decrease the size, this may result in loose or saggy skin, and it may be recommended that you undergo a mastopexy to lift the position of the breasts. This will ensure you have firm, youthful looking breasts without any sagging skin. If you undergo a mastopexy, you will have additional incisions and as a result new scars.
The recovery period will often be shorter and not as difficult as when you had your first breast augmentation. This is because the surgeon would have used the existing pocket in front of or behind the muscle to place the implant. Unless the implant size has been drastically increased, no new skin and tissue stretching is involved in an implant replacement.
However, you may still experience pain and discomfort, particularly at the site of the incisions. You will be given pain medication to help alleviate any symptoms.
You may need to take one to two weeks off work to fully recover.
You may be able to start undertaking light activities within a few days of surgery. However, you will need to avoid any strenuous physical activity and heavy lifting for at least four to five weeks.
In most cases, your surgeon will have used the previous scar for the new incision site. However, if you also required an uplift, you will notice new scars, particularly around the areola and going vertically down to the breast crease. This will look more prominent directly after the procedure but will fade in colour and size over time.
Many people feel the need to undergo a breast implant replacement 10 to 15 years after having their original breast augmentation. This can be for numerous reasons, including a change in body shape, wanting to change implant size, or experiencing capsular contracture.
Those who are wishing to decrease the size of the implants and want to have a more natural look may wish to have the implants removed and not replaced.
If you do not wish to alter the appearance of your breasts and are not experiencing any medical conditions, you may not need to replace the implants.
Many women will undergo breast implant replacement in order to change the size of the implants.
If you choose to increase the size, more pocket space will need to be made available and the skin and tissue will be more stretched, which may impact the recovery time.
If you choose to decrease the size, you may also wish to undergo a breast lift. This will lift the position of the breasts and avoid any sagging skin occurring.
An implant will either be placed above or below the muscle. In most cases, the implant will be placed in the same pocket as previously. However, if you experienced any capsular contracture, or you wish to have a different look with the implants, you may wish to alter the placement of the implant. This means a new pocket will have to be created by the surgeon before the implant is placed.
In most cases, the surgeon will make the incision in the same position as your previous surgery. This means you will have no new scars.
However, if you also opt to have a breast lift, you will have new scars. This scar is known as a ‘lollipop scar’, with the scar going around the edge of the areola and vertically down to the crease of the breast. This scar will fade with time, however, it will remain visible.
The recovery period for breast implant exchange will be considerably easier and shorter than that experienced after your initial breast augmentation. This is because the skin and tissue have already been stretched and the pocket for the implant has already been made.
If you have larger implants inserted, or you change the placement of the implant, you may experience a longer recovery period.
You will need to take between one to two weeks off work to fully recover. This will vary depending on personal preference and what type of job you do.
You will find you will be able to complete light activities within a few days of surgery. However, you will need to avoid vigorous physical activity for four to five weeks after surgery.