Year after year, breast augmentation surgery ranks as one of the most popular aesthetic procedures in the world. This is thanks to its ability to completely transform a woman's entire body as well as her sense of self.
While most patients are happy with their initial breast implants, for some, their bodies, as well as their aesthetic interests, change. If size is the main issue, going bigger or smaller with your breast implants can typically be easily achieved with a breast implant exchange.
Reasons for breast implant exchange
A dissatisfaction with the look of your initial breast implants, however, is only one of the many reasons why a patient may desire a breast implant exchange. Others include:
Changing aesthetic with age
Desire to switch from textured to smooth breast implants
Want to exchange the type of implant from saline to silicone
An issue with your breast implants such as capsular contracture
Need for a breast lift to address ptosis that may result from age, pregnancy and weight gain/loss
Furthermore, no breast implant lasts forever. Having said that, the old rule that a breast implant needs to be exchanged every decade is not clinically relevant. Assuming that you are happy with the look and feel of your breast implants and are experiencing no complications such as:
Malposition (implant has dropped out of position either below the inframammary fold or laterally towards the armpit)
Hardening of the capsule around the implant
Breast implants can last for 10, 15, 20 years are longer. But if you are unhappy with the look of your breasts or suffering from a potential complication then it is time to schedule a breast implant exchange consultation.
Breast implant exchange consultation
The journey to your ideal breasts should always begin with an in-person consultation, preferably with a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon. Thanks to its ever-expanding popularity, there are a lot of surgeons performing breast augmentation procedures in this country. Finding one that is board certified is a simple way to separate out those of us with the rigorous training and expertise to deliver exemplary results. This is particularly important whenever you are considering any kind of revision surgery.
During your consultation, your plastic surgeon will listen closely to what bothers you about your breasts. It's a good idea to bring in your original surgical report and information about your implants, if possible, as well as photos of the new "look" that are you are wanting to achieve. Your surgeon will then perform a thorough physical exam, taking careful measurements. Choosing the right size implant is part art, part science, so I'm always looking for that sweet spot between your desired outcome and the physical limitations of your anatomy. No matter how big you might want to go, the width of the base of the implant has to fit within your chest wall.
Breast implant exchange procedure
For some patients, a breast implant exchange is as simple as switching out one size or type of implant for another. I typically use the existing incision lines to make the exchange.
However, there are exceptions for some patients:
Exchange a larger implant for a smaller implant
Have developed ptosis with time
Had a too large implant initially that has stretched the skin & tissues of the breast
These patients may require a more complicated procedure. Any time that a foreign device is placed in the body whether it's a new hip joint or a breast implant, a capsule of "scar" tissue forms around the device. This is simply the body's way of healing.
In cases where a patient is downsizing her breast implant or where there is an issue with the capsule such as capsular contracture, the capsule will need to be removed. Otherwise, the new, smaller implant will not stay in position. Then, there are those patients whose breast skin and tissue have stretched.
Breast lift with breast implant exchange
Father Time exacts his toll on the skin everywhere. With age, your body produces less collagen and elastin. The first provides support for the skin while the latter provides "snap back." Other changes may include:
These can all cause the skin and tissues of the breast to stretch and sag. This, in turn, can cause your breast implants to move out of their initial position. The best solution for this scenario is to combine a breast lift with a breast implant exchange.
The lift allows me to reposition your nipple so that it's centered on the chest before exchanging your old implants for newer ones. The end result is a perkier, more youthful-looking breast. Additionally, many patients find that their breast aesthetic changes with age. What looked great at 20 may feel too large at 40 or 50. A breast implant exchange with a breast lift is the perfect procedure for addressing all of your breast aging issues at once.
If you are unhappy with your breast implants, schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss a breast implant exchange. It will have you looking and feeling your best in no time.
- Sean Doherty, MD | Boston, MA
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or Her Body Bank.