You’ve already had breast augmentation. But sometimes, your body changes over the years, your aesthetic goals change, or the original implants develop a complication.
Revision breast surgery is a procedure that removes, replaces, or adjusts implants from a previous breast augmentation. Or perhaps a patient’s original implants have deflated or developed a leak and need to be replaced.
It is important to recognize that a breast augmentation and a breast revision are not the same surgery. A breast augmentation includes the initial procedure to insert a breast implant, but a revision breast surgery specifically addresses instances where the breast implants need to be revisited.
There are a number of reasons a woman may want or need to undergo revision breast surgery, including general unhappiness or a medical issue with the original breast augmentation. Common reasons include: deflated or leaky implants, a desire to increase or decrease the size of the implant, breast implants that have shifted from their original position, or a significant weight gain or loss that has changed the breast tissue around the implant.
The first step in correcting your implant situation is to meet with Dr. Alvarez or one of his high-quality surgeons at mia Aesthetics to discuss your goals for revision breast surgery. The doctor will review your options and make recommendations about how to proceed to get the results you want. A health screening will ensure you are a good candidate. This consultation is your opportunity to get to know the doctor, fully express your wishes, ask questions, and start planning your procedure.
If you are unhappy with the way your original breast augmentation looks, you are probably a good candidate for revision breast surgery. An ideal candidate for breast revision is in good health — both mentally and physically — is experiencing complications or dissatisfaction with their current breast implants, and has realistic expectations for the surgery and results.
Revision Breast Surgery Procedure
Revision breast surgery will be performed using different techniques, depending on the circumstances behind the procedure. Here are some of the types of revision surgery used to help patients reach their goals:
- Implant Removal: If you are unhappy with your implants and want to completely remove them, the doctor will re-open the incision from which the implants were placed. The implant and implant lining will then be removed and the incision closed. In some circumstances, a doctor may recommend a breast lift in addition to the implant removal.
- Implant Replacement: An implant replacement will be similar to an implant removal, except that the removed implant will be replaced with a new one. If you’re looking to change the size of your implant, the surgeon will either need to expand the space in the breast to accommodate a larger implant, or reduce the size of the breast pocket for a smaller implant. Again, under certain circumstances, your doctor may also recommend a breast lift at this time.
- Capsular Contracture: If your implant or capsule has begun to harden, a procedure to remove and replace the hardened implant will be performed. If you are only swapping the damaged implant with a new implant of the same size, you won’t need the additional procedure of changing the size of the breast pocket.
- Implant Malposition: If you are unhappy with the position of your implant pocket, a doctor can restructure the tissue to reposition your implants in the location you would like them. Under some circumstances, you may need to use an acellular dermal matrix to provide additional scar tissue and added support to the new pocket structure.
- Nipple and Areola Repositioning: For situations where the nipple or areola needs to be lifted, additional incisions need to be made. Depending on how far the nipple needs to move, an incision completely around the areola may be required. This might also include an incision from the areola to the bottom of the breast.
- Implant Rippling: If your implant is visible through the skin of the breast or you can feel the implant, a surgeon reopen the original incision, then replace the implant, remove the implant, or move the implant to a new breast pocket with better coverage.
The recovery following revision breast surgery is similar to the recovery of an initial breast augmentation. While patients will experience some pain as the anesthesia wears off, they should be able to walk and move around that same day.
For the first week after surgery, patients can reduce swelling by sleeping with the head and back elevated. The surgeon will ask patients wear a specific bra during the first stages of recovery to keep implants in place and swelling to a minimum. Patients will also need to follow the doctor’s instructions for bathing and keeping the incisions clean.
Within two to six weeks, patients should find that most of the swelling has gone down and that they can easily return to typical day-to-day activities. The full recovery time will depend on the size of the implants and what additional procedures were done.
Choosing the Right Surgeon
It’s very important to choose your revision surgeon carefully, as revision procedures are always more difficult to perform successfully than the initial augmentation. Research and meet with several experts before you choose your surgeon, as this is the most important decision you will make in the process. Choose a skilled surgeon you feel you can trust, and you’ll be well on the way to the results you want.
Revision Breast Surgery FAQs
How long will the procedure last?
A revision breast surgery procedure will usually take one to three hours, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done. Shorter procedures typically include removal of the implant, while procedures where the size of the implant is changing take a bit longer. It’s an outpatient procedure, so you won’t be required to stay in the hospital long after the surgery is over.
The results of revision breast surgery can last many years, provided you don’t become pregnant or experience drastic weight fluctuations. Other factors that may change the shape of your breast include gravity and aging.
Are there risks?
It is important to recognize that revision breast surgery is a procedure that comes with potential complications. These complications could include a reaction to anesthesia or blood accumulation. You may also experience infection, changes in sensation to the breast or nipple, allergic reactions to the implants, and scarring. Choosing a reputable surgeon reduces these risks. Be sure to discuss these risks with your surgeon, including any concerns you may have about ongoing dissatisfaction with your breasts.
How soon can I return to work?
In most cases, seven to ten days of rest and recovery is all you need before being able to go back to work. Depending on how extensive your revision breast surgery is, you may need additional time off before returning to work.
Will insurance cover my procedure?
Though initial breast augmentation is a cosmetic procedure that is not covered by insurance, some types of revision surgery may be covered under some insurance plans. It’s extremely important to know the details of your plan in advance if you hope to get insurance coverage for your breast revision surgery.
Will there be additional scarring following revision surgery?
While each surgery produces scarring, plastic surgeons minimize additional scarring by following old incision lines and improving old scars if necessary. Following doctor’s orders also maximizes the body’s ability to heal, and your previous surgery will be a good indicator of how your body scars and heals.