Breast implant removal
Breast augmentation is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery procedures. Conventional augmentations involve inserting silicone implants into the tissue in order to increase breast volume. Various factors can prompt women to seek removal of these implants later on. The goal of a breast implant removal in Zurich is to create natural-looking, proportional breasts while minimising any potential health issues. The treatment can improve patients’ quality of life and well-being while boosting their self-confidence.
Possible reasons for breast implant removal
Patients seek breast implant removal for both aesthetic and health-related reasons. Some women stop finding the implant shape attractive and want to return to a more natural look. Moreover, even breast augmentations cannot stop the natural aging process—even after breast surgery, the skin and tissue will eventually lose firmness and elasticity, which can cause the breasts to sag despite the implants. Implant removal in combination with a breast lift can give the patient’s bosom a more youthful, attractive appearance.
Other patients seek implant removal for reasons of physical or mental health. Implants that cause pain or discomfort, for example, should certainly be removed. Damage to modern implants themselves is exceedingly rare, and they contain cross-linked gel to prevent silicone from leaking out even if it does occur, so women generally do not need to worry about long-term health problems in connection with implant damage. In most cases, breast implant removal or replacement only becomes necessary if the surrounding connective tissue hardens enough to deform the implant (capsular fibrosis), which can cause pain and changes in appearance.
Older-generation implants, on the other hand, have a limited lifespan—they may need removal or replacement after ten to fifteen years. The plastic surgeon will start by checking whether the patient’s implants are still intact and/or whether any existing risk factors make implant removal advisable.
Comprehensive pre-treatment personal consultation
It goes without saying that careful planning is essential when it comes to breast implant removal. Treatment always begins with a personal consultation session at which the plastic surgeon works with the patient to discuss the complete process. The patient’s motivations for seeking breast implant removal are the first question to be clarified. If the procedure is medically indicated, it may be covered by insurance. Next, the plastic surgeon explains the necessary before- and after-care along with any potential surgical risks. Once patient and surgeon have discussed the breast implant removal process in detail and clarified any remaining questions, the patient can take as much time as needed to decide whether or not to move forward with the operation.
What happens before breast implant removal?
In order to plan the implant removal precisely and rule out any health problems or other contraindications, the surgeon will do imaging of the breast tissue using either ultrasound or mammography. This imaging is an important prerequisite for surgery, so it is possible to apply for health insurance reimbursement.
The treatment process: how are breast implants removed?
On the day of the procedure, the patient is admitted to the clinic, where the plastic surgeon and the anaesthesiologist will go over the plan with her and double-check that no contraindications to treatment have developed.
The plastic surgeon removes the breast implants by making incisions in the inframammary folds (the creases beneath the breasts). If the patient already has scars there from previous implantation, the scars will simply be re-opened, which ideally prevents any additional scarring of the chest. If the patient will be undergoing a breast lift in addition to the breast implant removal, the plastic surgeon will make a second incision running vertically toward the nipple, creating an inverted ‘T’.
The silicone implants will be taken out via these incisions. The goal is to keep the implants whole and undamaged during removal while causing as little additional scarring as possible.
Is it always necessary to do a breast lift as well?
In some cases, especially when removing larger implants, the removal process will leave excess skin behind on the chest, causing the breasts to lose their shape and firmness. Combining implant removal with a breast lift can help yield more aesthetically appealing results in such cases. Prior to the operation, the plastic surgeon will let the patient know whether a breast lift is advisable in her specific case.
Breast implant removal in Zurich: surgery duration, anaesthesia, hospitalisation
How long breast implant removal takes depends on the type and scope of the operation. Combination implant removal and breast lift operations, for example, take longer than simple removal procedures. In general, patients are in surgery for between two and three and a half hours. The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia, and after the operation, the patient remains in hospital for a short period (usually two to three nights) to allow her body to recover.
Recovery and after-care
After removing the implants, the surgeon will place surgical drains to help clear wound secretions. These can usually be removed after a day or two. The patient’s breasts are initially protected with a soft dressing, which is later replaced with special compression clothing in the form of a support bra. The bra will need to be worn day and night, as it helps the breasts keep their new shape and minimises the risk of post-operative pain or complications.
Patients should expect a recovery period of around six weeks. Though sport and other strenuous physical activity are to be avoided during this period, short walks can be beneficial to the healing process. The most important thing is to re-introduce exertion gradually; patients can request additional information and tips in this regard when they return to the clinic for their regular follow-up examinations. Sun protection is important as well: ideally, patients should avoid direct sun or UV exposure for around two months, as it can cause the scars to darken.
Additional tips for at-home recovery:
- Avoid raising your arms above shoulder level for the first few weeks
- Try to sleep on your back with your torso elevated
- Before the operation, store important everyday objects at a comfortable, easily accessible height
- Ask someone for help with day-to-day activities (e.g., shopping, household chores), especially for the period immediately after the operation
- Mild to moderate post-operative pain can be treated with non-prescription medications (your plastic surgeon can provide recommendations)
- Cool the area regularly, but not excessively
- Try to avoid wearing clothing that pulls on overhead
Cost of breast implant removal
If removal of the breast implants is medically indicated, treatment costs will be covered by health insurance, including the operation itself as well as the anaesthesia, the hospital stay, and the pre-operative imaging (mammography or ultrasound). Implant removal for purely aesthetic reasons is usually not covered by health insurance. Regardless of whether the implant removal procedure is performed for medical or aesthetic reasons, the patient will bear responsibility for the cost of the breast lift operation, which usually runs between 8,000 and 10,000 CHF.
Are there risks involved in breast implant removal?
As with any surgical procedure, breast implant removal can carry a risk of complications such as post-operative bleeding, infections and problems with wound healing. Professional planning and implementation of the operation, together with conscientious after-care and regular follow-up examinations, can minimise these risks. Swelling, discolouration and changes in breast sensitivity are normal following implant removal and should not cause concern, as they are only temporary. Patients who have their implants replaced rather than merely removed are potentially at risk of capsular fibrosis (as with any breast augmentation).
Your plastic surgery expert for breast implant removal in Zurich
Are you interested in having your breast implants removed for aesthetic or medical reasons? Dr Britta von Stumberg, a specialist in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, would be glad to put her exceptional expertise and extensive experience to work for you. She places great importance on an honest, thorough consultation from woman to woman. Contact her clinic team today to schedule a non-binding consultation appointment with your plastic surgery expert in Zurich.