What Is Explant Surgery? Why So Many Women Are Choosing to Have Their Breast Implants Removed

Instagram @rachael_finch

You may be familiar with breast implant surgery, but have you heard of explant surgery? This involves removing implants from a woman’s breasts, revising the size and shape of the breasts to their pre-implant form. It might seem strange to have breast implants removed but there are a number of reasons why people choose to have implants explanted.

One such person is TV host, model and entrepreneur, Rachael Finch, who had explant surgery in early February 2021. Taking to Instagram, Finch told her followers that she was having the implants removed for health reasons.

“2 years ago I woke up and noticed one was a little different to the other,” Finch wrote. “I immediately went in for an MRI which the doctor told me I had a capsular contracture in my left breast — meaning the skin the body creates around the implant to protect itself has tightened. I was told it was fine, common and nothing needed to be done urgently.

“I started getting pain in my left breast which became bad and other symptoms (which I didn’t associate my implants with at the time) so decided to see other specialists to get more opinions. I’ve been in and out of clinics for months, until last week I was told my left implant was in fact ruptured — meaning there’s a hole with its contents leaking out. These results were actually on the original MRI I had 2 years ago but were read wrong to me.”

Finch, who had her original breast augmentation surgery at the age of 17, isn’t the only high-profile woman to have had explant surgery. Victoria Beckham has also had her implants removed, as have Ashley Tisdale and Chrissy Teigen.

“Years ago I underwent breast enhancement surgery. Prior to the surgery, I constantly felt my body was less than, and thought this change would make me feel more whole and more secure about myself,” Tisdale wrote on Instagram in August 2020. “And for a short period of time…it did. But little by little I began struggling with minor health issues that just were not adding up—food sensitivities as well as gut issues that I thought could be caused by my implants. So, last winter I decided to undergo implant removal.”

Why are implants removed?

There are a number of reasons why a person may choose to remove their implants but, according to the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, one of the most common reasons is a complication with the implants. The implant itself could have ruptured or deflated, which means it’ll have to be removed to fix the issue.

Other reasons include personal choice, with some people feeling that they no longer need the implants, or other complications like infections or displacement which can occur in some implants.

What happens during explant surgery?

Breast implant removal surgery is performed under general anesthesia and according to the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, it usually takes between one to three hours. The three most common removal surgeries are: breast implant removal only, where incisions are made in the same place as the original implant surgery and the implants are removed.

The second is breast implant removal with a breast life, which involves removing any excess skin and tightening the breast tissue. Lastly, there’s deflation, which, if the implants are made from saline, can be deflated without surgery and instead, performed in the plastic surgeon’s office under local anesthesia.

The recovery period following explant surgery is roughly six to eight weeks and requires a period of rest and taking a break from vigorous exercise to allow your body to heal.

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