Breast Implant Removal: Overview

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Breast implant removal is a surgical procedure done to remove breast implants that were placed for breast augmentation or reconstruction after a mastectomy (surgical removal of a breast). It can be done for various reasons, which include cosmetic preference, implant leaking, and scar tissue development.

The surgery has risks and benefits, which a healthcare provider should evaluate.

This article will discuss the breast implant removal process, risks, and recovery. It will also cover the different surgical methods used.

breast surgery

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What Is Breast Implant Removal?

Breast implant removal is a surgical procedure done to remove breast implants. Breast implants can be placed for augmentation (cosmetic purposes) or after breast reconstruction.

The surgery is done by a surgeon in a hospital or outpatient facility. Typically, it is an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home that same day.

A medical doctor called an anesthesiologist will prepare a person and administer sedation medication and general anesthesia.

The surgeon will make an incision around the areola, below the areola, or under the breast fold. Depending on the type of surgery, the implants and the breast capsules will be removed.

After the surgery, the surgeon will close the incision site with sutures, clips, or adhesives.

What Is a Breast Implant Capsule?

A breast implant capsule is the scar tissue that grows around a breast implant after it is placed. It is a natural reaction to a foreign object inside the body. The tissue usually is soft or slightly firm and helps keep the breast implant in the right spot. However, some people develop very firm scar tissue called capsular contracture. This can cause pain and change the shape of the breast.

Various Surgical Techniques

When you have your breast implants removed, you may or may not have the breast capsule removed.

A breast capsule can harden, causing pain and changes in breast shape. In these circumstances, a capsulotomy is performed. This is a procedure in which the breast capsule is opened or partially removed. When the whole capsule needs to be removed, it is called a capsulectomy. However, if the breast capsule is soft, it may not need to be removed.

Potential Risks

As with any surgery, there are risks. These risks will be assessed by your healthcare provider and discussed with you. Breast implant removal risks can include:

  • Breast asymmetry
  • Change in breast and nipple sensation
  • Loose skin
  • Scarring
  • Pain
  • Infection

Before surgery, you must talk to your healthcare provider to understand the risks and weigh the benefits vs. the risks.

Purpose of Breast Implant Removal

Breast implants do not last a lifetime and must be replaced every 10 to 20 years.

Breast implant removal is a personal decision that can be made for various reasons. You may no longer want implants or wish to change your appearance. Other reasons include:

How to Prepare

There are a few steps to take to prepare for breast implant removal surgery. You should arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery because the medications given cause drowsiness, and driving is not safe.

A healthcare provider may call you before the surgery to order lab tests or imaging. They will give instructions on preparing for the surgery and give specific details pertaining to your circumstances.

If you are preparing for breast implant removal, ask your healthcare provider for individualized instructions. Some of these instructions may include:

  • Stopping medications and vitamins per a healthcare provider's instructions
  • Stopping smoking
  • Eating or drinking before surgery
  • Bathing or cleaning the surgical area

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

On the day of surgery, you will meet your surgical team, which can include surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others. You will be brought back to the preoperative room. You will be asked and have the opportunity to ask questions, change into a surgical gown, and possibly have an intravenous line (IV) placed.

When the operating room is ready, you will be brought into the room and prepared for surgery. When surgery is over, compression bandages and drains may be placed around the surgical area.


After surgery, you will be brought into the recovery area. There may be bandages to help reduce swelling and cover the incision sites. Drains are placed to allow fluid and blood to drain out instead of accumulating in the body.

You will be given instructions on:

  • How to care for the surgical incisions
  • What medications to take and when
  • When and whom to call regarding concerns regarding infection and pain
  • When to shower
  • Activity restrictions

It can take several weeks for healing and recovery from breast implant removal.


Breast implant removal is a surgical procedure used to remove breast implants. There are several reasons why someone may choose to remove breast implants. They may include personal preference, breast implant leaking, and scar tissue development. This outpatient surgery carries risks that the person and their healthcare providers should consider.

A Word From Verywell

Breast implant removal is a significant surgical procedure that involves several weeks of recovery. You may choose to have your breast implants removed for different reasons. Whatever your reason, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about all the benefits and risks. Obtaining all the information before surgery will help you understand what to expect after surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do breasts go back to normal after implants are removed?

    After breast implant removal the breast tissue and skin may be loose. Some people choose to have a breast lift to reshape their breasts after their implants are removed.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Breast implant removal.

  2. Tanna N, Calobrace MB, Clemens MW, et al. Not all breast explants are equal: contemporary strategies in breast explantation surgeryPlastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 2021;147(4):808-818. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000007784

  3. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Will your breast implants last a lifetime?

  4. Stanford Medicine Health Care. What to expect the day of surgery.

  5. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. What should I expect during my breast implant removal recovery?

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.