Breast implant surgery sometimes requires revision soon after the initial operation due to problems with either implant size or implant position. Over time, revision becomes necessary when excessive scar tissue forms around the implant or when the implant breaks or ruptures. The exact procedure done depends on the particular situation. Contact our Dallas office to schedule your breast implant revision consultation.
Reasons Why Women Undergo Early Breast Implant Replacement Surgery
Following breast implant surgery, some implants are too high on the chest. This can be due to the implant being placed too high at surgery, it can be from pectoralis muscle contraction displacing the implant, or it can be caused by early scar tissue formation around the implant. Surgery to correct this is relatively simple and involves making the implant pocket lower so the implant moves down.
Alternatively, implants can be too low. When occurring early after surgery, it is usually due to surgical technique. When it occurs later, it is more frequently due to the weight of the implant stretching out of the patient’s tissues. This is sometimes called “bottoming out,” and it is most commonly seen with saline breast implants. This situation is more difficult to treat as it involves working against gravity. Here, the surgeon has to reduce the size of the implant pocket so as to elevate the implant. Recurrence is a real problem in this situation. Dallas breast implant revision surgeon Paul Pin frequently will encourage the patient to use silicone implants when the implant is too low as silicone implants are much less likely to cause stretching and recurrence of the problem.
Implant Size Problems
Despite the best efforts of the surgeon, patients are occasionally dissatisfied with their breast size post-operatively. This commonly results when a patient chooses her implant size pre-operatively by placing an implant in her bra. The implant will always look smaller once it is inserted, especially when it is placed beneath the pectoralis major muscle. Additional problems can arise when the goal of surgery is to create a certain cup size. Breast implants come in volumes (for instance, one 270cc implant is 9 fluid ounces) and have no consistent relationship with cup size. As much as possible, Dr. Pin tries to refrain from promising a certain post-operative cup size.
Regardless of cause, a change in implant size requires surgery to place a new implant. An exception is when a saline implant is inflated further. While this is minimally invasive and inexpensive, it usually results in an excessively firm implant and is therefore not commonly done.
Occasionally, the cause of a woman being too large after an augmentation is that her breast has actually gotten bigger. While this takes time to occur, it can happen as a result of weight gain, hormone treatment, pregnancy, or simply aging. Women in this situation may choose to downsize their implants or remove them altogether.
When Dr. Pin sees a patient who feels she has the wrong size implant, he spends a great deal of time going over pictures of other patients so as to determine her goal. Dr. Pin also tries to emphasize the importance of measurements besides volume, such as the width and projection of the implant.
Reasons Why Women Undergo Late Breast Implant Replacement Surgery
Capsular contracture or the apparent hardening of the breast implant is due to the formation of excessive scar tissue around the implant. This scar tissue reduces the mobility of the implant, gives the breast an unnatural appearance and feel, and can even cause significant discomfort. While at one time this problem was extremely common, surgery to treat this condition is now necessary in less than 5 percent of patients. This dramatic reduction is attributable to better implants, more careful surgical technique, and better infection prevention.
The treatment of capsular contracture involves surgery to remove surrounding scar tissue. If the implant is on top of the pectoralis major muscle, Dr. Pin will almost always move it beneath the muscle, as this is associated with a lower risk of recurrent contracture. While in this situation, some plastic surgeons will use breast implants with textured surfaces, Dr. Pin’s own experience is that these implants are more likely to develop recurrent contracture, and so he seldom uses them.
Breast implants, like any other product, eventually “wear out” and break. Saline breast implant failure is associated with the slow or sudden loss of breast volume and is usually very obvious to the patient. Silicone implant rupture is more difficult to identify because the silicone gel largely remains in the pocket around the implant. While some patients may report a change in breast consistency, either firmer or softer, the majority of silicone implant failures are “silent” and have to be identified by breast ultrasound, mammography, or MRI.
When a saline implant leaks, it is usually on one side and causes significant asymmetry, which prompts a patient to seek surgery to correct the problem. Because silicone implant rupture does not usually cause a cosmetic problem, surgery is usually less urgent. The FDA and most plastic surgeons recommend that patients with ruptured silicone implants have surgery to remove their implants. This is largely because some patients will have small amounts of silicone migrate into their breasts and lymph nodes. This can result in lumps that are painful and difficult to treat. These lumps can also mimic breast cancer and make breast self-examination difficult.
When Dr. Pin sees a patient with a ruptured silicone implant, he tries to help them decide if they should replace their implant. Patients who have been happy with their implants should consider replacement. Patients who have never really been happy with their implants should avoid replacing them unless the revision can substantially improve on the previous outcome. Some patients have a hard time deciding what to do and are concerned about what they will look like without implants. In this group, if Dr. Pin knows their implant size, he can usually give them an idea of their cup size without implant, and this greatly facilitates their decision. Patients who are worried about being ptotic or “droopy” after their implant removal can be offered a mastopexy or breast lift at the same time to ensure better breast shape post-operatively.
Dallas Breast Implant Revision Consultations
While all breast implant revisions require surgery, most patients find it to be not that difficult, and virtually all procedures are done on an outpatient basis. In most situations, patients can return to work within a week and return to normal activity shortly thereafter. Regardless of what is done, most revisions result in a tremendous improvement for the patient. Contact our Dallas office today to schedule your breast replacement surgery consultation.
Breast implant revision is real surgery and involves risks such as bleeding, infection, and scarring. Results vary. Dr. Pin will be happy to discuss these and other risks of breast implant revision.