Breast Implant Removal

Breast Implant Removal

The choice to have breast augmentation is a very personal one – so is the choice to have implants removed.  There are several decisions to make for women who have chosen to have their breast implants removed.  After implant removal, some women will choose to have a breast lift while others will decide to let their breast skin tighten naturally after implant removal.  The association of ALCL with breast implants and recent FDA updates are leading many women to do more research.  Breast implant removal is not an emergency and there is time to select a properly trained and experienced surgeon and make a decision that is customized to your individual body type, aesthetic goals, budget, and timeline.

Scientific evidence shows that a very rare form of lymphoma called Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) has been associated with breast implants – specifically textured implants.  ALCL has been seen with orthopedic and dental implants as well as textured breast implants.  Fortunately, ALCL has never been associated with purely smooth surfaced breast implants.  Although the FDA continues to monitor both textured and smooth implants, there has not been an ALCL case proven to have evolved from a patient with a documented history of having only smooth implants.  All cases that mention smooth implants have a history of having textured implants at some point.  ALCL has been seen in the United States, Europe and Australia – all areas where textured breast implants have been used for years.

As the evidence was emerging about ALCL in 2011, two schools of thought developed.  One school of thought felt that the textured breast implant association with ALCL was a spurious finding and not to be worried about.  The other school of thought was that ALCL was something to be studied, observed, and proactively addressed.  At Restore SD Plastic Surgery we followed the emerging scientific findings regarding the association of textured breast implants with ALCL.  In 2015, we decided that ALCL was a condition that we wanted to be proactive in addressing in our practice.  In 2019 we are on the forefront of education for this disease and follow the latest FDA guidelines as well as ongoing recommendations from our two primary specialty societies – the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

In order to safeguard the health of our patients and offer the best balance of safety and results, we opted to only offer smooth round breast implants, whether silicone gel, structured saline, or traditional saline implants.  In fact, neither Dr. Trent Douglas, nor Dr. Katerina Gallus have ever used a textured implant for a cosmetic breast augmentation.  We believe in excellent communication and discussing all aspects of breast augmentation or implant removal to ensure that our patients have the most current information on which to base their informed decisions.

The good news about ALCL is that it is both a very rare lymphoma associated with textured breast implants and has an extremely high cure rate with removal of the implants and the surrounding scar tissue capsule (capsulectomy).  There is a test that can be done on fluid surrounding the breast implant to determine if ALCL is the likely diagnosis.  If so, implant removal with capsulectomy is the treatment of choice and is nearly universally curative.

At Restore SD Plastic Surgery, we have extensive experience with smooth breast implants and have a wealth of experience with removal of textured breast implants and exchange for smooth implants or removal of implants and performing a breast lift (mastopexy).

For women who are considering breast implant removal, there are several considerations:

  1. Making the decision to removal your breast implants
  2. Choosing your surgeon – ideally a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who is a member in good standing of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
  3. Choosing the right operation for you based on a detailed discussion with your board-certified plastic surgeon.

Finding a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in implant removal, capsulectomy, and breast lift is your first step after you have decided to remove your breast implants.  Both ASPS and ASAPS have “Find a Surgeon” features on their websites to facilitate finding properly trained and experienced plastic surgeons in your area.  Once you have selected a surgeon, you can work together to customize a treatment plan that is best suited for your individual body features, natural breast volume, budget, and timeline.

The cost of breast implant removal will vary from area to area and will largely be the responsibility of the individual patient with some rare exceptions.  Implant removal or exchange procedures for reconstructive patients such as breast cancer reconstruction patients are usually covered.  Insurance coverage is unlikely for implant removal when performed to remove cosmetically placed breast implants.  The original breast augmentation surgery is considered by the insurance company to be a cosmetic procedure.  Coverage for breast implant removal views removal of breast implants without other significant medical conditions directly attributable to the breast implants as cosmetic in nature and not a covered procedure.  It is important to read and understand your insurance plan to know the extent and limitations of your policy benefits.  The price of breast implant removal in San Diego and around the country will depend on the type and complexity of the procedures performed.  Current options include:

  1. Remove the breast implants and leave the scar capsule
  2. Remove the breast implants and remove the surrounding scar tissue capsule
  3. Remove the existing breast implants and replace them with smooth implants without removing the scar capsule
  4. Remove the textured breast implants and the scar capsule and place new smooth implants
  5. Remove the breast implants and the scar tissue capsule and have a breast lift

The factors associated with formulating a price quote for breast implant removal involve the facility fee, the anesthesia fee, and surgeon’s fee.  Depending on which option above is used, the cost will be based on the length and intricacy of the procedures performed.

Removal of breast implants is performed as an outpatient procedure and takes from 1-3 hours depending on the difficulty level of the surgery performed.  Recovery from surgery also depends on the procedure performed and some patients will have drains after surgery which may be in for a week or two.  Most implant removal patients have returned to their usual activities within 2-4 weeks although it may take 6-8 weeks to return to more vigorous activities.

If you are seeking peace of mind by choosing to remove your breast implants, look no further than Restore SD Plastic Surgery.  Call us at 858-239-2486 to book your breast implant removal appointment today.

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