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The goal of implant replacement surgery is to replace old breast implants with newer implants. Often patients desire to change or improve the appearance of the breasts while updating the implant material, which could include:
- A breast lift
- A breast reduction
- Repositioning the implant on the chest by reshaping the implant’s pocket
- Increasing or decreasing the size of the breast implants
- Changing the shape or style of the breast implant
Breast implants can last a relatively long time, but not forever. Many women who had implants placed years ago were given the impression that they would never have to exchange them, but that notion has proven dangerous and false. It is often better to be proactive in exchanging implants to avoid implant failure (this occurs on an annual basis in roughly 1-2% cases). Women should consider having their implants exchanged every 10-15 years as complications increase as the implants age. These complications include:
- Leakage of saline and silicone implants
- Capsular contracture (hardening of the breast)
- Shifting of breast implants
- Change in breast tissue due to weight loss/gain
Leakage is a complication that the majority of patients are most concerned with – especially with patients that have older silicone implants. With silicone leaks from older implants, the silicone gel is oilier and will leak through the shell of the implant and into the tissues – making it hard to get out and sometimes causing deformity of the tissue and breast(s). For this reason, Dr. Bridgett Moore at Azalea Plastic Surgery urges anyone with the older silicone implants to have the implants exchanged sooner rather than later. Being proactive means an easier replacement and fewer health complications due to leaking over a period of time or other issues.
Breast implant replacement surgery is specifically tailored to the individual’s goals and requests. Dr. Bridgett Moore, our board-certified plastic surgeon at Azalea Center, is aware of this and will work with the individual to make those appropriate accommodations while considering all of their concerns.
Ideal Candidates for Implant Replacement
Implant replacement surgery is intended for patients who have had a breast augmentation in the past. Those patients may have loved the initial results but have grown unhappy, as time has passed, and are concerned with their implants’ condition. This procedure specifically addresses those concerns by replacing the previous implants with new, fresh implants. You may be an ideal breast replacement candidate if:
- You are concerned about the integrity or condition of your breast implants
- You are displeased with the size, shape, or appearance of your breast implants
- You are physically healthy, a non-smoker, and at a stable weight
- You have realistic expectations
Details of the Procedure
Depending on the patient’s reason for needing implant replacement surgery, Dr. Moore’s technique and treatment plan will vary, as well. However, the original incision created to insert the implant will almost always be the same incision used to remove and replace the implants, as well. The capsule or the lining around the implant is frequently removed at the same time to promote a quick healing. After this process, if the patient’s nipples or areolas need to be repositioned, additional incisions will be made to make those changes. These incisions are made around the areola or from the areola down toward the crease under the breast depending upon how much elevation is needed. When the implants have been inserted and proper repositioning of the nipple and areola have been completed, the incisions are closed in a supportive manner to allow minimal scarring.
It’s important to follow the instruction of Dr. Moore and her team at Azalea Center to ensure desirable results with minimal discomfort and scarring. This will include information about wearing the compression garments, care of drains, medication and how much activity you should or should not partake in. It may take a few weeks or months for the new implants to settle into their final position. Patients commonly experience swelling or temporary bruising for a few days following the surgery. Some patients also experience some loss of nipple sensation, but the symptoms usually improve with time. Patients’ new breast shape should remain fairly stable unless one were to lose or gain a significant amount of weight or become pregnant.
Dr. Bridgett Moore and the team at Azalea Plastic Surgery love working with patients to help them achieve the breast shape and size they feel good about or to work with patients who need breast reconstruction surgery. However, we are also concerned about your health and long-term well-being. We do think it is best to be proactive in changing your implants to avoid significant complications so that your surgery will be easier on you, and you will be happy with the outcome.