Breast Implant Exchange
As with any medical device, breast implants are not designed for lifetime use. In fact, the manufacturers recommend a 10-15 year life span. Eventually, your implants will require updating with new implants, either for safety reasons or for aesthetic reasons. Causes for implant exchange vary from patient to patient. Additional pregnancies and/or breastfeeding after primary breast augmentation, significant weight changes requiring a different sized implant or a complication with the device itself – such as deflation (saline implants) or implant rupture (silicone-gel implants). Some women simply become accustomed to their current implant size and desire a greater size. Some women have significant capsular contracture, or scar tissue buildup around their implant that requires removal surgically.
- Best Candidates for Implant Exchange
- What to Expect at Your Consultation
- Preparation for Implant Exchange
- How Implant Exchange Surgery is Performed
- Recovery from Implant Exchange Surgery
Best Candidates for Implant Exchange
Healthy women in their 30’s to 50’s with existing implants who need new implants for either safety or aesthetic reasons.
What to Expect at Your Consultation
Dr. James Matas, a board certified plastic surgeon in Orlando, Florida, has decades of experience performing secondary breast surgery. The process begins with your personal consultation, during which Dr. Matas takes the time to learn about your breast concerns, gain a clear understanding of your goals, and evaluate whether you are a good candidate for breast revision surgery. He performs a physical examination of the breasts, assesses the current condition of your overall health, and thoroughly reviews your medical history. Any prescription medications, over-the counter medications, supplements, and herbs you take are also carefully recorded.
When Dr. Matas examines your breasts and chest wall, he is concerned with learning about:
- The size and style of your current implants
- Existing problems you have with your implants
- The thickness of your breast tissue covering the implants
- The condition of your chest (pectoralis) muscles
- The positioning and condition of your nipple and areola
- The presence and degree of any sagging
- Skin thickness and elasticity
He will rely upon exact measurements of your chest to precisely determine the ideal size, shape, and positioning of the new breast implants.
Once he has completed the examination and measurements, Dr. Matas can discuss the details of the customized procedure he has developed. He will review every aspect of the surgery from the incision locations to the type of anesthesia that should be used. You will be fully informed about any risks and potential complications. If you have developed significant sagging or excess skin since your primary breast augmentation surgery, Dr. Matas may also recommend that a mastopexy, or breast lift, be performed at the same time as the breast implant exchange. Once your customized surgical plan is determined, you will receive an accurate price quote and learn more about the next steps you must take.
Preparing for Implant Exchange Surgery
Prior to your surgery you will be educated about important preparations you must make leading up to the procedure. Dr. Matas may request that you:
- Stop taking ibuprofen, aspirin, vitamin E, and certain herbal supplements. These substances can increase bleeding and/or interfere with with anesthesia.
- Discontinue workouts that focus on strengthening the upper body.
- Stop smoking at least one month before surgery to promote proper wound healing.
These instructions can help to minimize any risks and complications, while giving you the best chance for an optimal outcome.
How Implant Exchange Surgery is Performed
If possible, your incisions from the original implant surgery will be used, so that you don’t require new scars. The old breast implants are removed and then the new implants are positioned, either within the same pocket (perhaps with some revisions) or a newly created pocket. If the new implants are placed submuscularly, then part of the chest muscle must be cut in order to allow deeper access. A pocket must then be created beneath the chest muscle so that the implant can be placed appropriately. If the existing pocket has become too large after years of being implanted, Dr. Matas may tighten the pocket so the new implant shifts less. In the case of significant capsular contracture, he will surgically remove the scar tissue.
Once the new implants have been properly positioned, he closes the incision with several layers of sutures and a surgical bra is applied. The procedure itself takes about two to three hours and is performed outpatient under general anesthesia.
Recovery from Implant Exchange Surgery
Submuscular implant placement generally results in a greater degree of post-operative discomfort when compared to submammary placement. Within the first few days or weeks, it is not uncommon to experience temporary changes in nipple sensation. After five to seven days most individuals feel ready to return to sedentary office work. Dr. Matas advises that patients avoid high-stress situations, strenuous activities, and cardiovascular exertion for at least two weeks, if not longer. Heavy-lifting, vigorous, or high-contact activities that engage the upper body, such as weight training, tennis, or water-skiing, should wait at least six weeks. Fading of the incisional scar will occur within several months to a year.
Your New Look
We expect you’ll be pleased with the outcome of your secondary surgery, but your reasons for satisfaction will vary according to the problems you had with your original surgery. Since you’ve been accustomed to having implants before, you will more than likely be aware of the new changes that have occurred from the first surgery to the second.