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What is breast implant revision surgery?

Doctor is showing breast implants to young woman in beauty treatment clinicBreast revision is a surgical procedure designed to correct unsatisfactory results from previous augmentation surgery or to address conditions that have changed with a woman’s implants. In revision surgery with Dr. Admire, the goal is to correct a problem such as capsular contracture or rippling. Also, revision surgery is the term for replacing leaking or ruptured implants. There are a variety of reasons a woman would choose to have revision surgery.

In the majority of these surgeries, revision procedures are easier than the original augmentation because Dr. Admire can enter through the original incisions.


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Am I a good candidate for breast implant revision?

That depends. Some women, once their implants settle into their final positions wish they had chosen different sized implants. If you want to opt for smaller implants or larger implants, this is the surgery to do so. But Dr. Admire counsels his patients to wait at least one full year, so all swelling and settling are completely finished. Plus, it gives you time to really live with your augmented breasts before you decide to make a change in size.

Issues such as implant rupture or capsular contracture necessitate revision surgery: it’s not optional. Obviously, if you have a saline implant rupture, now one side of your chest has deflated. If you have a silicone rupture, any silicone needs to be removed, along with the implant. Capsular contracture can be painful, and it can make the implant move into an asymmetrical position, so revision is necessary.

Problems such as rippling are generally also deemed to merit necessary replacement, although this issue is in no way dangerous to your health or painful. But the cosmetic aspect of rippling defeats the overall effect of augmentation for most patients.

Reasons for Breast-Implant Revision Surgery

After undergoing breast augmentation with implants, women who become pregnant, or lose significant amounts of weight, may no longer be happy with how their breasts look and decide to undergo revision surgery. Other reasons for breast implant revision surgery include those below.

How can I tell if my implants need to be replaced?

With silicone gel implants, the FDA recommends women get an MRI three years after their augmentation surgery, and once every two years after that. The reason for this recommendation is that if a silicone implant ruptures today’s more cohesive silicone gel typically stays within the implant shell for the most part. That means the implant doesn’t show identifiable signs of deflating. The MRI can show if an implant has ruptured.

Saline implants are not like that. When a saline implant shell develops a leak, the saline fully leaks out of the shell and into the body. It’s just salt water, so the body simply absorbs it. But now you’ll have one breast that has flattened by the size of the saline implant. The replacement will be an obvious requirement.

Unhappiness with Size of Implants Chosen

Wanting a different implant size is the most common reason that a patient seeks revision surgery. A patient is advised to wait up to 1 year after the initial procedure before undergoing revision surgery; time is needed before swelling subsides and the implants settle, allowing for a true evaluation of the surgical outcome. Exceptions are when there is a pronounced asymmetry between the breasts, or the implant has leaked or ruptured.

During revision surgery, the incisions made during the initial surgery are often used to remove the implants and replace them with either larger or smaller ones. If larger implants are wanted, the pockets in the breasts that hold the implants are made larger. If smaller implants are wanted, the pockets are made smaller using sutures; a mastopexy (breast lift) may also be performed.

Can I change my implant size or the type of implant with revision surgery?

As mentioned above, this is the most common reason patients come to Dr. Admire for revision surgery. You can go bigger or smaller with your implant selection. You can change from saline to silicone or vice versa. You may want to change the type of implant from traditional silicone gel to the more cohesive gel of a gummy bear implant. You may want to stay with saline, but change to the Ideal implant, which features a nested design that makes these saline implants behave and feel more like a silicone implant.

Breast Implant Revision Before and After

Breast Implant Revision before and after images of a young woman

Will I have more scarring after breast implant revision surgery?

In most cases, Dr. Admire can enter through the original incision locations to remove the old implants and place new ones. If you seek to increase the size of your implants, he will make the breast pocket holding the implant larger to hold the larger implant. The same is true in reverse if you are downsizing.

The one exception to this is with implants that were placed through the transaxillary method — through incisions made in the armpits. These incisions cannot be used again. For revision surgery, new incisions need to be made, usually along the breast crease. So, if you’ve had implants placed through the armpit, you will definitely now have new scarring.

Implants Are Leaking

Implants can leak because of age or defect, injury to the breast, or overfilling. Whatever the reason, a leaking implant should be replaced as soon as possible. The incisions made during the initial surgery are often used when replacing the implant.

A leak to a saline implant is immediately noticeable; the implant deflates and the saline is absorbed by the body. When there is a leak in the types of silicone implants used today, because the silicone is designed to hold its shape, leaks are often only discovered during routine mammograms.

Does insurance cover breast implant revision surgery?

Insurance will not cover breast augmentation unless it was after a mastectomy. But many companies will cover revision surgery if it is deemed medically necessary. This would be the case in these conditions:

  • Capsular contracture
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Implant rupture
  • Poor incision healing

Coverage varies widely, however, depending upon the insurance company. At Dr. Admire’s we work with insurance companies to gain the most coverage, if possible, but there is a great deal of fluctuation.

Implants Are Causing Complications

There is always a risk complication from a breast implant procedure. They include wrinkling and rippling of the implant (usually a saline implant); capsular contracture, in which scar tissue forms around the implant, hardening the breast and changing its look and feel; and symmastia, in which the implants drift together and meet in the middle of the chest.

Even when breast-implant revision surgeries are successful, new implants are still subject to the same problems as the original implants.

What are the risks and complications of breast implant revision surgery?

The risks of revision surgery are the same as for breast augmentation. Beyond the general risks associated with any surgery, there are some risks specific to these procedures. These include:

  • Capsular contracture
  • Implant leakage or rupture
  • Implant shifting
  • Changes in nipple sensation
  • Impaired ability to breastfeed
  • Breast asymmetry
  • The visible rippling of the implant

Obviously, many of these risks/complications can lead to the need for revision surgery, but they are still present even though new implants have been placed.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

If you’re interested in learning more about breast implant revision surgery please contact us for a consultation at 480.946.3155 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.

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