Breast augmentation surgery aims to create natural-looking results that last over time. Even positive surgical results can gradually shift due to changes in breast tissue caused by aging, pregnancy, breast cancer treatment, or significant weight loss.
If a previous breast augmentation surgery failed to deliver the desired results or life changes have affected the appearance of the implants, a breast implant revision can help. In most cases, it is recommended that patients wait at least six months between breast enhancement and breast implant revision surgery. However, every person’s anatomy is different, and there are important factors to consider.
What is involved in a breast implant revision?
Breast implant revision is a surgical procedure intended to improve undesired or physically uncomfortable results from a previous breast augmentation surgery. Breast implant revision surgery can adjust or alter several of the original surgery’s results, including:
The surgical procedure typically involves replacing old implants with new ones. It uses a similar technique as breast augmentation surgery, in that a small incision is made to allow for the replacement of the old implants.
During breast augmentation surgery, the plastic surgeon will determine where to make the incision based on implant size and type, the patient’s anatomy, and any concerns about preserving the nipple sensation. The same considerations also apply to breast implant revision.
Breast implant revision can be more complicated than breast augmentation surgery because the plastic surgeon also needs to consider any potential build-up of scar tissue from the enhancement surgery, as well as any changes to the skin or breast tissue from previous procedures.
For these reasons, working with a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in breast implant revision techniques is crucial. That surgeon will also likely request records of your previous operations to help guide his/her clinical decision-making.
Can you change implant size or type in a breast implant revision?
It is very common for patients to change the size or the type of their implants during breast implant revision surgery. The type of implant a patient chooses for their replacement will be dependent on their aesthetic goals and individual circumstances. If you wish to change the size or type of your implants, it is best to make this decision in consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon. In general, smaller implants have a lower complication profile.
Some patients may wish to add areola reduction to their breast implant revision surgery.
Areola reduction is a procedure to reduce the diameter of one or both areolas. Although an areola reduction can boost confidence and self-image for many patients, there are a few key considerations to be aware of.
While most patients do not experience a change in nipple sensation, known as paresthesia, areolar incisions do present a slightly higher risk. However, 90% of women who have an areola reduction regain full nipple sensation.
Additionally, while breast implant revision surgery does not affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed, an areola reduction can sometimes disrupt the milk ducts. If you are planning on breastfeeding, consult your plastic surgeon about what you might expect.
When you should think about getting a breast implant revision
There are several reasons why patients may seek a breast implant revision, including:
- A desire to change the size or type of implant
- A sudden change in size, shape, feel, appearance, or comfort of current implants
- Capsular contracture: implant migration or pain caused by excessive scar tissue forming around the implant
- Being able to see implant folds through the skin, also known as “rippling”
- Poor placement of implants during the original augmentation surgery, including implants that are too high, low, far apart, or close together
- Changes in breast tissue caused by natural aging or significant weight loss
- Implant failure
- Breast cancer reconstruction
Breast implant revision can be more complicated than breast augmentation surgery because the plastic surgeon may need to consider scar tissue when changing implants. It is always recommended that patients review a plastic surgeon’s experience, credentials, and before/after galleries when deciding on a plastic surgeon to work with for their breast implant revision.
The recovery timeline for breast implant revision is similar to the timeline for breast augmentation surgery. Patients should adhere to activity restrictions and their post-surgical care regimen.
Understanding that “feeling better” is not the same as being fully healed is critical. Adhering to the plastic surgeon’s recommendations can improve healing and surgical results.
Patients can typically return to work after a few days, resume lower body exercise after one to two weeks, and resume full-body workouts (including yoga, core exercises, and weight lifting) after six weeks.
How long should you wait to get a breast implant revision after augmentation?
The best candidates for a breast implant revision surgery are generally healthy non-smokers:
- Unsatisfied with the results of their previous breast augmentation
- Concerned about the condition of their implants, especially if those implants are more than ten years old
- Close to their ideal, stable weight
- Have a history of recalled textured implants
It is also generally recommended that patients wait at least six months between a breast enhancement and implant revision. This window ensures the patient has fully recovered and allows enough time for potential issues to be identified and corrected.
If you are unsure whether you might be a good candidate for breast implant revision, it is best to decide in consultation with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon.
A skilled, board-certified plastic surgeon can guide you through the different factors you should consider in choosing whether to have breast implant revision surgery. They can also help you determine the best approach to meet your personal goals.