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Breast Implant Removal
What you need to know about breast implant removal:
Breast implant removal is surgery to take out one or both breast implants. You may choose to have the implant removed completely, or to have it replaced with a new implant. If the implant is removed, you may need to have the skin or tissue tightened or lifted. You may choose to have the scar tissue around the implant removed. You may need one or more other surgeries to have this done.
How to prepare for surgery:
- Your surgeon will tell you how to prepare. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight before surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home when you are discharged.
- Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
- Your surgeon may tell you to shower the night before your surgery. He or she may tell you to use a certain soap to help prevent a surgical site infection.
What will happen during surgery:
Your surgeon will tell you what will happen. This depends on the kind of implants and amount of scar tissue you have. It also depends on if you want a replacement implant or to have any part of the breast reshaped. The following is general information about what will happen.
- You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your surgeon will make an incision under the breast. He or she may make the incision in the same place as the incision used to put in your implant. He or she will check for scar tissue and feel for the implant. The implant will then be removed. The scar tissue may also be removed.
- If you are not having the implant replaced, your surgeon may reshape the breast. Extra skin may be removed or breast tissue may be tightened. These procedures may help improve the look of your breast after the implant is removed. If you are having the implant replaced, your surgeon will put in the new implant.
- The incision may be closed with stitches, medical glue, or tape. Drains may be placed to remove extra fluid or blood. The surgery area will be covered with bandages. Your surgeon will repeat the process on the other breast, if needed.
What to expect after surgery:
- You may be given a surgical bra or told to wear a sports bra. A supportive bra may help hold your bandages in place. It may also help with swelling and pain.
- Bruising and swelling are normal and expected. Ice can be applied to help reduce pain and swelling. You may be given pain medicine, such as ibuprofen.
- Your healthcare provider may show you how to do arm stretches. The stretches may prevent stiff arms or shoulders. You will be told how often to do the exercises at home, and for how long.
Risks of breast implant removal:
You may bleed more than expected or develop an infection. You may develop a life-threatening blood clot. A seroma (pocket of fluid) may form in your breast. The size and shape of the breast may be different from before you had the implant placed. You may have lost breast tissue. This can cause the breast to sag. The nipple may be higher, lower, or more to the side than before. The skin on your breast or nipple may also be dimpled, wrinkled, or puckered. You may have numbness or lose sensitivity in your breast for several months. Scar tissue may develop. This can make the breast feel hard. Your breasts may not be of equal size or shape after surgery. This may be permanent. You may choose to have more surgery to fix these concerns.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- You have sudden chest pain or shortness of breath.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Your shoulder, arm, or fingers feel numb, tingly, cool to the touch, or look blue or pale.
Call your doctor or surgeon if:
- You have pain in your chest or armpit that does not go away, even after you take pain medicine.
- You have a fever.
- You have signs of an infection in the surgery area, such as swelling, redness, or pus.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for the surgery area:
- Ask your healthcare provider when your incisions can get wet. If you have drains, you may need to take a sponge bath until your drains are removed. When you can shower, carefully wash around the surgery area with soap and water. It is okay to allow the soap and water to gently run over the area. Gently pat the area dry and put on new, clean bandages as directed.
- Change the bandages as directed. It may feel more comfortable to place gauze over the surgery area before you put on a bra. Check the area every day for signs of infection, such as redness, pus, or swelling. Do not put powders or lotions on the area.
- If you have drains, empty the drains as directed. You may need to write down how much fluid you empty from your drains each day. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about how to care for your drain.
- Rest as directed. Take short walks around the house. Walk a little more each day. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work and your usual daily activities.
- Apply ice to the surgery area as directed. Ice decreases swelling and pain and helps prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you place it on the area. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
- Wear a support bra as directed. This will help decrease pain. You may need to wear this support bra all or most of the day for up to 2 weeks after surgery. Do not wear underwire bras until your healthcare provider says it is okay.
- Move carefully until the surgery area heals. Do not lift anything heavier than your healthcare provider says is okay. Do not push or pull anything. Do not play sports. Your healthcare provider will tell you how long you need to move carefully.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel damage and delay healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Your healthcare provider may show you how to do arm stretches. Arm stretches may prevent stiff arms or shoulders. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about arm stretches.
Follow up with your doctor or surgeon as directed:
You may need to have the stitches or drains removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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