FAQ on Removing Your Breast Implants

Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions

Breast implants are in the news these days. There has been an association made between textured breast implants and BIA-ALCL (anaplastic large cell lymphoma) which has led both Canada and the U.S. to prevent the further sale of textured silicone breast implants. Smooth implants, whether silicone or saline, are not part of this ban and are still for sale. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about breast implants and removal.

Have all breast-implants been recalled?

No. The recall pertains to textured implants only and prevents any further sale of textured implants. At this time, Health Canada is not recommending women to remove their textured implants if they are not symptomatic.

What is BIA-ALCL?

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that can develop in the scar tissue around your breast implant. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that affects your immune system. This is not a type of breast cancer.

What is the risk of developing BIA-ALCL?

The risk of developing BIA-ALCL has many variables. All well-documented cases have occurred in textured breast implants, with most cases occurring in textured implants manufactured by ALLERGAN™. The risk could be anywhere from 1 in 2,207 to 1 in 86,029.

How do I know if I have BIA-ALCL?

The most common symptom is a sudden swelling of the breast. This swelling can happen months or many years after the procedure. It can also present as a mass or lump in the breast, a distortion in the shape of the breast or skin changes.

If I want to remove my implants, what’s involved?

Capsulectomy. This is a surgical procedure in which the scar (capsule) that surrounds the breast implant is removed.

Capsulotomy. This is a surgical procedure in which the scar (capsule) is not removed by rather released surgically, internally.

En Bloc. This is a technically demanding procedure in which the scar (capsule) and breast implant are removed as one unit, with the implant encapsulated within the scar tissue.

What is recovery like?

The recovery varies depending on the procedure performed. Sometimes the removal of a breast implant can be performed under local anesthetic. A more involved procedure such as en bloc removal of implants requires a general anesthetic and drains may be required for a few days afterwards. Most women are able to return to work in a week.

Will I need a breast lift if my implants are removed?

A lot of women are concerned that they will need a breast lift if their implants are removed. In the large majority of cases, we have found this not to be true. In some case, I recommend waiting three to six months after the removal of the implants before considering a breast lift. This gives time for the breast tissue to recover and better assess if a breast lift is needed.

Consult your surgeon.

Always consult your surgeon to find out what is best for you.

 

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About the Author

Dr. Sean Rice

Dr. Sean Rice

Dr. Sean Rice, B.A.(Hons), M.D.,M.Sc.,F.R.C.S.C., is a renowned plastic and cosmetic surgeon, a leading authority on age management and is widely recognized for his published articles in Canadian and international medical journals. Dr. Rice is frequently called upon to share his expertise as he trains other surgeons in cutting-edge techniques as well being invited to […]

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