There a variety of reasons that you may want to exchange your implants. Some people want to switch implant types, meaning they go from silicone to saline or vice versa. Other people want to change the size because they are unhappy with the look, which is especially common among breast implant patients who have had them for many years. Also, most implants have an expiration date. Depending on what exactly you want to be done, the procedure takes between 45 to 90 minutes in total and requires minimal downtime whether undergoing breast implant removal surgery or breast implant replacement surgery.
The main factor that people pay attention to after having either saline or silicone implants is whether it feels and looks natural. With both types of breast implants, there is often a noticeable if not rapid change in breast tissue sensation or size of one or both breasts upon implant rupture or other complication.
However, not everyone who seeks out breast implant revision surgery has experienced these drastic changes. Some simply want a different look, a more or less-full appearance, or for a completely different breast enhancement procedure like breast lift as opposed to breast augmentation. The reasons you might seek out new implants or breast implant removal are as various as the reasons to seek breast augmentation in the first place. There’s no set time to have them removed or replaced as long as you’re happy with the results.
The recovery period for breast revision surgery takes several weeks. Most patients can return to work within a week of the surgery, but strenuous activity should be limited for up to six weeks. Also tanning, swimming, or wearing a regular bra will be prohibited until the six-week mark or until cleared by your doctor. Scars may be visible for up to six months, at which time they will begin to soften and fade.
Most insurance companies consider breast implants to be cosmetic, elective, and not medically necessary. The only potential exception is when breast implant surgery is combined with breast reconstruction for breast cancer treatment. Breast implant replacement procedures are no different, even if you experience scar tissue complications, silicone implant ruptures, or saline implant ruptures. Most insurance companies will not cover the costs unless it is for an unavoidable medical reason.
Breast implants have been shown to last with no complications on average between 10 and 20 years.
Generally, most patients with capsular contracture won’t notice any change in the look of their breasts unless it is very severe. The lowest grade of capsular contracture is asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) whereas the highest-grade results in hard, misshapen breasts that are sore and painful to touch. Most patients with capsular contracture may notice feeling some breast soreness but no change to the look of their breasts.
During the first couple of weeks after your breast augmentation, you will need to wear a compression garment to hold your chest in place and help minimize swelling. A sports bra can be an option if cleared by your board-certified plastic surgeon. After the compression garment is worn for a couple weeks, you will need to wear a wireless bra, like a sports bra, until you are fully recovered.
Most patients do find that their breast implant surgery and/or removal is much easier the second time than the first. This is because the skin and muscle have already been stretched for the first surgery so there is less discomfort associated with this procedure.