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When Do Breast Implants Need to Be Replaced?

With the latest breast implant models and the skills of an experienced plastic surgeon, it is now more possible than ever to achieve beautiful breast augmentation results that both look and feel natural. With that in mind, some women elect to have breast revision surgery after the initial breast augmentation. This can be due to a variety of reasons, and one of the more common ones is that the patient simply wants to upgrade their implants to a new type or shape. Below, Dr. Steven Holzman, a plastic surgeon in Austin, shares some important and educational details about breast revision surgery.

Many women who have breast implants may wonder if it is necessary to have breast revision surgery. Dr. Holzman says that, if you aren’t having any current problems, then there is typically no need to have “preventive” breast revision surgery. That said, some women may choose to “upgrade” or exchange their implants after a certain period of time, whether it be to a new size, shape, or material. In some cases, a patient may decide that she would like to have her implants removed entirely, a process known as explantation.

Other times, complications may occur that necessitate implant exchange or removal—such as capsular contracture, a condition where excess scar tissue develops around the implant, or implant rupture, which is often diagnosed by firmness and irregularity, abnormal contour and shape, or suspicious or abnormal mammograms. Recently, there has been the discovery of a rare cancer associated with breast implants known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). Most of these cases have been associated with textured implants. Simply having textured implants is not a reason to remove the implants but this will require a consultation with Dr. Holzman.

Dr. Holzman notes that the timing for implant replacement will be different for each patient, as it depends on the types of implants they currently have, whether they are experiencing any complications, the way their breast tissues are responding to the implants, and their ultimate cosmetic goals. In cases where the breast skin is becoming lax and stretching over the implants, Dr. Holzman says that it may make sense to reshape the breast skin, lift the nipples, and upgrade the implants for a refreshed aesthetic. This is known as a breast lift (mastopexy), or a revision augmentation depending on the extent of the change required. Replacement implant options include a range of profiles and sizes, which allow truly customized treatment based on the needs of each unique patient.

It’s also important to note that some patients may need to upgrade their breast implants simply due to the age or condition of the implants themselves. Dr. Holzman explains that in many cases, older implants become firmer, or even develop scar tissue around them, which is usually related to implant rupture or leak. Removal of the scar tissue along with implant replacement can often resolve this issue. In other cases, patients who have breast implants that were placed above the chest muscle may desire a breast revision surgery to place the implants below the muscle, which can further improve the quality of the results.

Whether one chooses to undergo breast revision surgery or not, Dr. Holzman emphasizes the importance of maintaining breast health and having the implants monitored by a board-certified plastic surgeon who is experienced with both breast augmentation and breast revision surgery. This helps increase the chances of maintaining the best possible outcomes.

To learn more about breast revision, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Holzman, please contact us today.