Breast Implant Removal

For plastic surgeons, breast augmentation is considered part of the “bread and butter” of our business. And yet, we rarely spend as much time talking about breast implant removal surgery.

Is breast implant removal painful? Will it leave a flat chest behind? Will it take as long to heal as the original surgery? As usual, it will all depend on what each patient wants and needs.

Why would I seek breast implant removal?

Just like with anything in plastic surgery, the reasons for seeking an explant surgery (or implant removal) are as varied as the people themselves. Some of the most common reasons people come to me to have their breast implants removed are:

Implant expiration

Whether silicone- or saline-filled, breast implants are ultimately human-made devices. They’re not meant to last forever. Their exact expiration date will vary depending on the model and quality.

On average, they’re meant to last 10 years. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends changing them after a maximum of 15 years. At this point, you may just want to change the appearance of your breasts, try a new breast size, or get rid of the implants altogether.

Breast Implant Removal & Replacement


Sometimes one or both implants may slide into a different position than initially intended. Some “sliding” is natural and expected. Usually, we take this into account during the initial surgery, but we can never predict it with 100% accuracy. Changes in weight and breastfeeding can also cause displacement.

As a result, many women find that their implants are a bit too “to the sides” of the chest, or that they drop oddly in certain positions. Sometimes, we can correct this without removing the implant — but it may be easier to remove them and start anew.

Capsular contracture

Sometimes mistakenly known as “encapsulation,” capsule contractures are a painful complication of breast augmentation surgery.

Whenever we insert anything man-made into the body, the body will try to “encapsulate” and create a thin layer of scar tissue around it. This is as true for orthopedic pins as for breast implants — and it’s actually a good thing. This capsule will isolate the implant from the surrounding breast tissue. It will also help keep the implant in place, providing a firmer appearance.

However, sometimes this capsule hardens too much. Then, it starts to press on the implant, causing pain or changing its shape. When this happens, the only way to fix it is by taking the implant out out and removing the capsule — a procedure called a capsulectomy. In some cases, such as when the implant is ruptured and the capsule is contracted, we may decide to proceed with an en-block capsulectomy. During this procedure I remove the capsule and its contained implant all at once without opening the capsule.

Breast implant rupture

This is when the implant bursts or breaks for any reason. If the ruptured implant is saline, the rupture can be immediately visible to the naked eye: one breast will look deflated, and you may see a slight asymmetry or feel a bump. A silicone implant rupture can go unnoticed because the silicone may either still retain its shape or become trapped in surrounding soft tissues. This is called a “silent rupture.”

There are two types of rupture: intracapsular and extracapsular. In intracapsular ruptures, the implant will still be held in place by the capsule, so it won’t be as noticeable. If there are no significant signs or symptoms, some patients take a wait-and-see approach to surgery. Extracapsular ruptures, on the other hand, are often more symptomatic and the recommendation is to remove the implant as soon as possible.

Breast implant illness (BII)

Breast implant illness is a complex and difficult condition caused by the way the body’s immune system reacts to the implant. Though it’s fortunately rare, it can severely derail your quality of life. Symptoms may include:

  • severe joint pain
  • frequent headaches
  • fatigue
  • unexplained skin rashes
  • brain fog
  • dry eyes

Currently, there is only one way to treat it, and that’s by removing both the implants and the surrounding capsule.

What are the types of breast implant removal surgery?

Breast implant removal may refer to three different procedures:

  • The removal alone, or simple explant surgery.
  • A removal and replacement surgery.
  • A removal and capsulectomy.

Naturally, each of these procedures will be done slightly differently, and recovery times will vary accordingly.

Simple breast explant surgery

This is the simplest of the lot. Under ideal circumstances — if the original implant was a high-quality, smooth silicone piece, we know there was no implant rupture, and there is no hardening or pain — this can be a very short surgery.

We simply make an incision on or around the breast and take out the implant. Then, we will ensure the areola and nipples are at the right place and close the incision.

The implant removal procedure can be done as an outpatient procedure (no overnight stay) and without general anesthesia. Sometimes it’s enough to simply numb the breast with local anesthesia, however, we may add IV sedation to make sure you’re comfortable.

Ideally, the removal incision should be in the same place as the original breast augmentation incision site. In this way, we can prevent a new scar altogether.

Often, simply removing the implant will leave behind a very abrupt change. Even when dealing with a small implant (let’s say, a B cup), patients can expect some sagging or even an indentation.

Therefore, explant surgery is often paired with a breast lift, or even a fat transfer — that is, we take fat cells from a different part of the body through liposuction, and we graft them in the breast to “fill it.”

Removal and replacement surgery

Next in the complexity ladder is to remove and replace the implant on the same day, leaving the capsule intact. Once again, the gold standard here is to use the same incision as before, rather than cause a brand-new scar.

If your past set of implants never gave you any trouble, we will also try to place the implant in the same capsule as the previous one.

This is often not possible for patients with capsular contracture, as it would naturally fail to relieve the pain, soreness, or other symptoms. In these cases, we may either remove the old capsule before placing the new implant, or we may place the implant somewhere else — for example, if the original set was below the muscle, we can now place it over the muscle.

Usually, a removal and replacement procedure is not much longer than a regular breast augmentation. You can also expect the recovery to be very similar.

Implant removal and capsulectomy

A capsulectomy involves removing the entire capsule around the implant, which is much harder and more invasive. As a result, I generally only perform it when we need to do it.

Why? Essentially, it creates a lot more trauma on the body. Instead of simply sliding the implant out, we will need to cut the capsule away from the rest of the breast tissue. This causes more pain and more bleeding. Not every patient is a candidate to under a removal, capsulectomy, replacement, and a lift all at once.

This procedure can only be done under general anesthesia. Likewise, the recovery period will also be much longer.

A capsulectomy may become necessary if:

  • The capsule became really thick or stiff.
  • You are looking for permanent relief from breast implant illness.
  • You suffered from an extracapsular rupture.
  • In cases of Breast-implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), an extremely rare form of cancer that has been linked with older types of implants. Textured implants (as opposed to our current smooth implants) have been recalled from today’s market to prevent BIA-ALCL.

Breast implant removal recovery timeline

The explant recovery timeline will depend on the exact procedure you’re getting but will follow similar steps.

First-day post-surgery

If you didn’t have a capsulectomy, and if we did it under local anesthesia, you will leave awake and walking — but may still be dizzy and tired, so someone will have to drive you home. We will give you some pain medication for when the anesthesia wears off completely.

If you opted for general anesthesia, nausea may keep you from eating or drinking anything right away. You will likely need someone to stay with you for the first day.

Either way, you’ll go home with a set of well-bandaged sutures and special compression garments for your chest. If you also had a capsulectomy, you may need a drainage tube to prevent any excess fluid build-up.

Breast Implant Removal & Replacement

The first five days

At this point, your incision sites will still feel very sore. You will still need to take it slow when getting up or walking for long periods.

If you work a desk job and had a simple removal (with no replacement), you may be able to go back to work after a couple of days. If you had a replacement, you may need a little longer. In the event of a capsulectomy, it may take up to a week to return to a regular, non-active routine.

One to two weeks post-op

Anywhere between one week and 10 days, you will have to come back to the office for a follow-up appointment. Here, we will take a look under your bandages, look for signs of infection, and remove any stitches or drainage tubes.

Provided the healing process is going forward as normal and you no longer require prescription pain medication, you will be able to drive about a week after surgery. However, you will still need to:

  • avoid heavy lifting
  • steer clear of pools and hot tubs
  • continue using a supportive bra
  • avoid sleeping on your stomach

Long-term implant removal recovery

Full recovery from removal or removal and replacement may take between four and six weeks. At this point, you may also see something very close to the “final result” as your body will have adjusted to its new size.

The capsulectomy recovery time may take an extra week or two.

Why choose Dr. Saber for breast implant removal in Los Angeles?

Dr. Sepideh Saber is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. In addition to her state-of-the-art training at Stanford Univeristy, she also offers an empathetic healthcare model, where both patient and doctor work together to design the best solution for any case.

To request a consultation, call (877) 205-4100 or schedule a consultation online.

The practice of Dr. Saber is located in Encino, CA for patients throughout the Los Angeles area. We are also convenient to Encino, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Calabasas, Burbank, Glendale, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills, Northridge, North Hollywood, Malibu, Topanga, Canoga Park, Reseda, Valley Glen, Chatsworth, West Hills, Winnetka, Universal City, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Downtown Los Angeles, Silverlake, and Echo Park.

What patients say about Dr. Saber

Over 16 Reviews

I was fortunate to find Dr. Saber after researching board-certified surgeons who specialize in breast cancer reconstruction revision surgery. I knew I was in good hands from the moment I spoke with the lovely and efficient Marlene, Dr Saber's office manager. Dr Saber patiently listened to my concerns and, after examining me, explained what I could realistically expect the outcome to be from another surgery. She also explained to me that she would need to review my previous surgery notes before we could discuss a possible further surgery, which I found comforting and highly ethical. I also discussed a couple of other procedures that I would like done, including fat removal from my large upper arms that had caused me great embarrassment for several years. Dr. Saber is an excellent surgeon who is incredibly kind and genuine. She truly understands the female body and the emotional aspect of body insecurities yet, she is transparent about what can and cannot be done and takes time to discuss realistic expectations and outcomes. My breast reconstruction revision surgery will take place in the New Year, but in the meantime, I have the most fabulous upper arms that I recently flaunted in a strapless dress (something I have not done in years). Dr Saber is truly one of a kind, and I still cannot believe how fortunate I am to have found her. I highly recommend Dr Saber.

Linda DeCarlo November 29, 2023

I don’t have enough wonderful words to describe Dr Saber and Marlene! I had a tummy tuck done this year and from start to finish the entire experience was amazing. Marlene is always so helpful and works so hard to make every detail a breeze for you. When I had my consultation with Dr Saber I was at a point of complete agony with my body. She instantly took that stress and frustration off my shoulders! As a woman not being heard by doctors for years I left that consultation with happy tears knowing I had finally found my Dr. It was a major surgery and I felt completely zen and at peace going in because she really does make you feel that safe. I didn’t think I would ever look the way I do now! She gave me the gift of having the body I kept fighting for. I will never stop recommending her.

Monica Prusa October 9, 2023

I saw Dr. Saber when I broke my wrist. I ended up having to have surgery. She did an excellent job and I am healing nicely. She was very professional, but was also very kind and compassionate. I would highly recommend her!!

Sandy Schaupp September 13, 2022

I LOVED DR SABER!!! There are a few reasons why I chose her. One was because she’s a female Doctor that was my goal who also did a good job (which I was able to confirm with all her before and after photos) and what sold me was my safety in mind. She made me feel like I was in the best hands ever along with Marlene who coordinated everything THANK YOU LADIES! Dr Saber helped me get back the body I have always desired. I had a lot of stomach fat from weight gain and I lost weight so a lot of my weight was in my front lower and upper abdomen. Now I have a super beautiful curvy body like an hourglass after a tummy tuck and lipo she did. She understood the assignment hahaha . I’m 32 years old no kids just wanted to enjoy my younger body looking and feeling beautiful and she really took good care of me. Even after hours I had an emergency due to my fault but she was there and got back to me very quickly and I’m very grateful. I also think her work says a lot because I stopped taking pain medication on the 3rd day after surgery and was fine with very minimal pain I was able to tolerate the healing process. Highly recommend going with her I just had a wonderful experience and would do it all over again if I had too. Maybe after I have kids. Thanks Dr Saber and team <3

STEPHANIE d July 15, 2022

Dr.Saber is by far one of the best plastic surgeons. I love how she takes her time to explain any procedure to the patients understanding. She always makes sure to answers any and all questions.From fillers to body contours she’s the one you want.

Katherine Melara February 15, 2022

Dr Saber is amazing! She is caring and very informative. I went in for fillers and she explained procedure step by step. I highly recommend her and look forward to future visits.

Amanda Vazquez December 18, 2020

Dr. Saber was friendly, knowledgeable and professional. She took time to listen, answer all my questions and was forthright in her recommendations. Her staff was friendly and helpful. I was very happy with the results and plan on going back. If you are looking for a first rate professional experience look no further she is the doctor for you!

T R December 18, 2020

Dr. Saber is one of a kind plastic surgeon with a heart of gold. She is a well verse plastic surgeon that puts her patient's needs before anything else. She genuinely cares about every single patient, and her work speaks for itself. I notice every post-operative result on her Instagram (@saberplasticsurgery) the patients have this glow that radiates through. I have been going to Dr. Saber for my Botox for the past 3 years, and love the results every time. I know who I will be going to for any future plastic surgery needs, and will confidently refer family and friends to Dr. Saber for any Botox, fillers, and plastic surgery consultations.

Rudy Garcia December 16, 2020

I have nothing but great things to say about Dr. Saber! I am so pleased with my results from a breast augmentation she performed on me back in late June! She answered all my questions and concerns before and after my surgery. She’s very easy to get in contact with and she’s so nice. She made feel so comfortable throughout the whole process. 100/10 Lover her work!!

Amanda Villegas October 15, 2020

Dr Saber is hands down the best surgeon! She took her time answering my questions and explained procedure in detail. After doing liposuction six months ago, I am extremely happy with my results and I appreciate her so much.

Marlene Cosentino October 15, 2020

Dr. Saber is so kind and thorough with her patients! She is an amazing doctor and genuinely cars about everyone she comes in contact with. I would recommend her to anyone for any hand surgery or cosmetic procedure.

Rachel Meach October 15, 2020