If you’ve had breast implants to enlarge your breasts, but you have decided you don’t want them anymore, they can be surgically removed. There may be medical reasons why a breast enlargement needs to be reversed, or you might just want to change the size of your breasts. New implants can be inserted following removal of your original implants if you want to change the size, shape or feel of your breasts.
What happens during the operation
The implants, which sit either directly under the breast tissue or deeper behind the muscle, are removed through incisions underneath the breasts. Depending on the exact type of surgery you have, further surgery such as a breast uplift may be required following the implant removal and / or replacement.
The operation normally lasts one and a half hours to two hours, and is carried out under general anaesthetic. You will be asked to follow fasting instructions before your operation. You will usually stay in hospital overnight and will need to plan time off work so that you can recover at home. You will also need to wear a special supportive bra in the first few weeks after surgery.
Aftercare and recovery
Immediately after your operation, you will experience some swelling, pain, and bruising. Your chest may also feel tight, and you may feel that your breathing is restricted. This is normal, and your symptoms will start to improve over the next few weeks.
While you are recovering from your surgery at the hospital or clinic you will usually rest in a semi-upright position as this will help to minimise any swelling, and should also help you to feel more comfortable. If you are in pain, you may be given painkilling medicine to help ease your symptoms.
You may be able to go home the same day, but many patients will spend one night in hospital. Post-operative pain in these procedures is easily controlled. Patients will be mobile from day one and should be back to full exercise within six weeks.
The nature of the scars will depend on the technique that has been used. Scars tend to be quite red in the first six weeks, changing to purple over next three months and then fading to white.
Once you are allowed home, you will need to rest to give your body time to recover. Avoid using your arms or chest area excessively following your operation because doing so may cause irritation and bleeding.
Following your operation you should avoid:
- getting your wounds wet for one week,
- sleeping face down for one month,
- heavy lifting for 3-4 weeks, and
- driving for at least one week or until you can perform an emergency stop without discomfort.
In order to get the best results it is important for you to follow the aftercare advice that your surgeon gives you. You will normally need to attend a series of post-operative appointments to check your recovery.
Risks and complications
All surgical procedures carry risks so it’s important that as well as the benefits of cosmetic procedures you are also fully aware of any complications that may arise.
Any operation carries some risk; however the risk of developing complications is relatively low. Complications which can affect anyone having any surgery,can include an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic, excessive bleeding, and blood clots.
You may be worried that your implants look unnatural following your surgery. This is normal and your breasts are likely to feel quite taut, or rigid, at first. However, within a few months, they will start to appear more natural as the breast tissue, muscle, and skin stretches to accommodate the new implants.
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You may also experience changes in feeling in your breasts, with different areas becoming more, or less, sensitive than they used to be. Although most of these sensation changes are temporary, some may be permanent and this is not unusual.