Explantation: The Basics

The topics most widely discussed about breast augmentation center around the questions dealing with risk, procedure, type of implant, and even finding a doctor. Rarely is the implant removal process talked about, even though many women will have to undergo implant removal at some point in their lives due to implant complications, disease, complications of the implants, or simply the personal decision to have them removed.

Explantation is the term for breast implant removal. It may be performed under IV sedation or a general anesthetic. An incision is made either around the areola or under the breast, at the fold. The capsule--or scar tissue--around the implant, is cut into and the implant is removed. Sometimes the capsule or part of the capsule may be removed as well. This surgery usually takes between 30 minutes and one hour. Drains may be used to allow any fluid to escape from the wound area.

The physical recovery time of explantation is usually fairly short--a woman may be back to work in 2-3 days and back to full activity in 2-3 weeks. Immediately following surgery, fatigue and soreness may be present. After a few days the gauze dressing will be removed; then it will be possible to bathe. Bruising and numbness may occur, but these should fade within the first six weeks after the operation.

For women who have experienced complications involving silicone implants, some of the symptoms they experienced while the implants were in their body may subside. However, because the silicone distributes itself throughout the body after a rupture of the casing due to the body's inability to excrete it, the silicone will stay in the body and may continue to cause illness.

There may, of course, be other problems associated with explantation. Necrosis may occur, which is the death of living tissue. This may be caused by infection. When this happens, more surgeries may be necessary in order to remove the dead tissue.

The psychological impact of explantation will vary. Some women are disappointed in the sagging and wrinkling of their breasts after the swelling goes down following the surgery. In time, the tissue may tighten so they become less saggy. The fact is, as women age, they do gain more body fat which will help the structure of the breasts to return to a natural form. Many women feel proud of themselves for making the decision to have their breast implants removed and simply feel beautiful for who they are. Overall, women who have undergone explantation describe it as a positive experience.

author: Dorothy Edison

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