Recovery after Breast Implant Removal

Tips for Recovering After Breast Implant Removal Surgery

  • When can I get back to work after breast implant removal surgery?
  • Will I be in a lot of pain after a breast implant removal surgery?
  • How long is the recovery after breast implant removal?

Breast implants are prostheses that are inserted into your breast for cosmetic and reconstructive purposes. There are two types of breast implants: one is saline-filled implants and the other is silicone-gel-filled. These implants may require removal or replacement every 10-15 years or sooner if there is a complication like capsular contracture or rupture. Read more about Breast Implant Illness Symptoms & BII Solutions here.

One of the most important reasons to remove the implants is the formation of hardened scar tissue around the implants. This can cause discomfort and pain, and even change the appearance of the breast. Sometimes, old implants might leak, while other times it may cause calcium to build up. Movement or shifting of the implant can also require removal.

The goal of breast implant removal surgery is to remove the silicone or saline implant placed during breast reconstruction or augmentation surgery. Plastic Surgeon Dr Michael Kernohan will give you instructions to prepare for surgery, which may include adjusting certain medications and stopping smoking.

While you may be prepared for implant removal, you might be worried about the recovery. This article will answer your questions about implant removal journey. For more information contact the clinic.

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Guide  Cosmetic Breast Surgery

When Do Implants Need to Be Removed?

Breast implants require replacements or removal if:

  • You have experienced discomfort, hardening, or pain
  • You don’t like the aspect of the breast after getting implants
  • If you think the look of the implants have changed following pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • There is a leak or rupture, as suggested by clinical or other type of examination
  • You feel your breasts are too heavy for your comfort
  • If you no longer desire the implant or want to replace them with smaller or bigger ones
  • If your implant was placed 10 to 15 years back

About Breast Implant Removal Surgery

Breast implant removal is usually done under General Anaesthesia (GA). If the surgery is performed under GA, you will be asleep during the procedure. Implant removal involves the following steps:

  • Dr Kernohan will make an incision around the dark skin surrounding your nipple, known as the areola. Alternatively, the incision can also be made in the inframammary fold, under the breasts
  • The implant will be then removed, together with the scar tissue that has formed around it
  • If you are having an implant replacement, Dr Kernohan will place a new set of implants
  • The incisions will then be closed off, using tapes or stitches
  • You will be placed in a recovery room for a while

You will be required to wear a special type of supportive bra or compression garments to minimise the swelling. You may also require drain tubes to remove excess fluid or blood. These drains will be placed under your skin and may be in place for a few days.

How Long Does It Take to Heal after Breast Implant Removal?

It may take 6 to 8 weeks, on average, to heal after explant surgery. However, you can return to light work about a week after the removal. Intense physical activity like gym or sports can be resumed 6 weeks after.  Some people may experience soreness and tenderness for 6 weeks. It may take up to a year for the complete healing of all the tissues.

Recovery following breast implant removal depends upon your general health & Physical condition. The size of the implant, the amount of scar tissue surrounding it, the complexity of each procedure determine the recovery time.

Dos and Don’ts after Breast Implant Removal Surgery


  • Keep yourself hydrated
  • Keep wearing your compression garments as instructed
  • Check your dressings regularly for signs of leakage
  • Rest, but keep moving around
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Do apply ice packs for 20 minutes at a time


  • Drink alcohol or smoke
  • Submerge your body in hot water
  • Sleep on your stomach
  • Lift heavy objects
  • Use heat over the skin

Recovery after Breast Implant Removal Surgery FAQs

Will I feel better after breast implant removal?

  • Explant surgery may lead to some degree of soreness, discomfort, sensitivity, and tenderness. You may also have difficulty in raising your arms and moving the upper body. Sensations in your breast may be reduced, which may last for up to 6 months.  You may also experience numbness or red painful scars following implant removal.

Some rare but serious complications associated with explant surgery are:

  • Blood clots in your leg (Deep Vein Thrombosis) can cause redness, pain, and swelling in the legs
  • Blood clot in your lung (Pulmonary embolus) that can cause shortness of breath, chest or upper back pain

How long after breast implant removal can I exercise?

  • Light walking can be resumed on the first days after removal. You can get back to the gym and resume light exercises after three to four weeks. However, you need to put off vigorous exercise for the first six weeks following explant surgery. After six weeks you can usually resume all forms of physical exercise, including gym work – just start gently! It is important that you get out of bed and start moving around as quickly as possible, to minimise the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis.

Will I need a lift after breast implant removal?

  • Breast implants give your breast a perky and fuller look. Removal of the implant may cause drooping and sagging of the breast. Implant removal may be combined with a breast lift procedure known as mastopexy.  This will remove the extra skin, reposition the nipple and areola and reshape your breast. Your breasts will be firmer and elevated after mastopexy. Read more about the Solutions for Saggy Breasts.

What happens if you don’t replace your breast implants?

  • Breast implants are not medical devices that can last a lifetime.  While they may last for several years, they have to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. If the implants are not replaced in this time frame, they may leak or rupture. The saline implant may deflate over time, giving your breast a “flat tire” appearance. The capsule around the implant may contract to cause firm, hard, and deformed breasts.

Is breast implant removal painful?

  • Like any other surgical intervention, you might experience a certain level of pain and discomfort during the first few days of the recovery period. However, taking your antibiotics and analgesic medication will help you avoid infections and alleviate the discomfort.

When can I shower after the explant surgery?

  • Do not shower for the first 48 hours after surgery. Avoid hot tubs, baths, and swimming pools for the first six weeks. You can talk to Dr Kernohan about when to shower if your surgical drain is still in place.

How long do you wear a compression bra after implant removal?

  • It is important to wear a compression bra for 2 to 3 weeks after breast implant removal. This will allow the breast to maintain its shape and lift. It will also help the tissues shrink back. The compression bra should be worn at all times, except when you are in the shower.

What should I do after Breast explant surgery?

  • Take your pain medications regularly to minimise discomfort
  • Get up and move around from time to time
  • Change the bandage and clean the incision site as instructed by your healthcare provider. This will help minimise the risk of infection and other complications

How do I sleep after Breast explant?

  • After your explant surgery, you will need to sleep on your back for 8 to 12 weeks post-op. This position will prevent excessive pressure on the incision and will allow your breast to heal quickly and effectively. Avoid sleeping on your stomach or your sides for the first six weeks following breast implant removal.

How do I prepare for an explant surgery?

Dr Kernohan will give you all the details about how to prepare for explant surgery. Generally speaking, you might need to:

  • Change your current medication
  • Temporarily stop medication that can interfere with bleeding including aspirin, herbal supplements, and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Stop using cigarettes and other tobacco products that can delay healing
  • Get your blood tests

What does it look like when you have breast implants removed?

  • Removal of breast implants will change the appearance of your breast. You should not expect the breast to return to its pre-augmentation state after explant surgery. The volume of the implants has stretched the skin and the look will be different. Following the removal of the implants, breasts may appear irregular with indentations. It may also lead to flatter or droopier breasts.  Depending upon the amount of scar tissue removed from around the implant, your breast may take on different shapes. You may need a breast lift or fat transfer to rectify this.

Further Reading

Medical References about Recovery after Breast Implant Removal Surgery