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Breast Implant Revision

Breast Implant Revision

Breast implant revision is a surgical procedure designed to replace older silicone implants with new saline-filled implants.

On average silicone gel implants last about ten years. Therefore, women who had silicone gel implants may want to consider having them replaced with saline-filled implants. Some doctors recommend having them replaced before there are signs of a problem. Other doctors suggest leaving them alone.


In recent years, serious questions have been raised about the connection between silicone leakage and chronic ailments from mild fatigue to lupus. While there is no medical evidence to support these claims, there is still a great deal of controversy surrounding silicone gel implants.

Recently, the FDA ruled that saline-filled implants (made by Mentor and McGhan) were safe to use in breast augmentation surgeries. Unlike liquid silicone, saline is a salt-water solution that can be safely absorbed by the body without side effects. So, if one of these implants breaks, the leaking fluid will not present the same kinds of risks.

Breast implant revision allows a woman to keep the fuller, larger breasts that she desires while minimizing risk.

How is a Breast Implant Revision procedure performed?

During the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision to remove the existing implants and place new implants in the same area.

An incision may be made in any one of the following places: the crease below the breast, around the areola, under the armpit, or, in rare cases, through navel. The silicone implants are usually taken out through the same incisions used to put them in.

The new implants can be placed either under the chest muscle or directly under the breasts. Placement considerations include the anatomy of your breasts, toleration of soreness after surgery, and possible interference with mammograms. In addition, if you have some hardening or contracture in one location, your surgeon may choose to move the new implant to another site.

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How long does a Breast Implant Revision procedure take?

Breast implant revision usually takes about one to three hours to complete. The length of the procedure varies according to the technique used and your anatomy, as well as any existing capsular contracture, asymmetry or other factors related to the previous implants.

What type of anesthesia is used?

Breast implant revision is usually performed using general anesthesia, causing you to be asleep during the whole procedure.

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Where is the procedure performed?

Breast implant revision is usually performed on an outpatient basis, in the surgeon's office-based surgical suite, an outpatient surgery center or hospital.

When can I return home and resume normal activities?

You will be able to return home within a few hours of the surgery. However, if you have a severe infection or hardening of the breast, you may have to stay overnight in a recovery center. Resumption of normal activities varies according to each individual case.

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How do I prepare for a Breast Implant Revision procedure?

During your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss the changes that you would like to make to your appearance. Since the appearance of your breasts is a matter of personal perception and preference, you will need to discuss your concerns in detail so your surgeon can determine the appropriate alternatives. You also should make arrangements ahead of time for someone to drive you to and from your procedure and to assist you with your daily activities during your recovery period.

Prior to your surgical procedure, the surgeon will perform a complete health history and physical. Knowledge of your allergies, medications and previous surgeries should be brought to your surgeon's attention at this time. Specific instructions to assist you in preparing for this procedure will be given to you after the health history and physical is complete. Depending on your individual health status, the instructions may include guidelines regarding your diet, alcohol intake, smoking and which medications to take or avoid. Your experience will be much smoother if you remain compliant with your surgeon's instructions.

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What precautions are necessary during recovery?

You should keep your elbows at a level lower than your armpit after the procedure. The tissues will heal more quickly if you avoid stretching and separating the muscle and tissue surrounding the breast implants. You may be required to wear a support bra to help your breasts form and maintain a pleasing, balanced shape. You may or may not be able to shower, depending on where your stitches are.

The stitches will come out within a week to ten days, but swelling may continue, gradually subsiding over several weeks. With the swelling, your breasts may seem hard and unnatural, but eventually they should soften to a more natural feel.

Because revision surgery can range from minor surgery performed on soft breasts to a major procedure on hardened breasts, you should check with your surgeon to find out when you'll be able to return to your normal activities. Recovery varies from patient to patient and depends upon the technique, type of implant, and site of placement that the doctor uses, as well as the level of activities in your daily routine.

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What are the possible complications after a Breast Implant Revision procedure?

Some of the more common possible complications include postoperative infection, hematoma (a blood clot in the breast tissue requiring evacuation of the blood clot during a subsequent surgical procedure); implant rupture, deflation or leakage; capsular contracture, calcium deposits, changes in nipple or breast sensation, interference with mammogram readings, shifting of the implant. Many times patients will not be aware of complications until days or months after the procedure has been performed. Often they will report some gradual hardening, tenderness, redness or lump in a particular part of the breast.

No procedure is without risks; however, the majority of complications known to be associated with a breast implant revision are minor when the procedure is performed by an experienced board certified plastic surgeon. It is always important to be informed about the possible complications before any surgery. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your surgeon.

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What results can I expect after a Breast Implant Revision procedure?

Breast augmentations stretches the tissues, and can be painful. This may be true for breast surgery revision as well, especially when the implants are placed under the muscle or the pocket location is different. The pain is greatest within the first 48 hours, but improves with each day and may be relieved by pain medications.

When you wake up you may feel tired, sore and stiff. Your surgeon will prescribe medication to alleviate this discomfort. You should arrange for someone to drive you home and assist you with your daily activities for the first few days.

Your breasts will be wrapped with gauze bandage as well as a tighter bandage for protection and support. You also may have drainage tubes coming out of the incision for several days, to help drain some of the excess fluid.

The long-term outcome for breast surgery revision is good. This procedure allows women to continue their daily lives without the worry of silicone leakage and complications. Mentor and McGhan, the two makers of saline implants, guarantee their saline filled implant products for life.

An overwhelming percentage of women express high satisfaction with the results of their surgery and feel that it has a positive impact on their lives. Following FDA instruction, these two companies have published information pamphlets about such topics as wrinkling, leakage, contracture and asymmetry. Your surgeon will provide you with further information about these two saline implant makers.

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Choosing the right surgeon

To obtain further information regarding Breast Implant Revision, we advise you to consult with a qualified and experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. Regardless of the type of procedure you are considering, it is crucial to choose the right surgeon for your individual goals. To receive a complimentary consultation with a specialist in your area, simply fill out our Online Referral Form or call Toll Free 800.449.1884.

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