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Breast Implant Exchange

Although not guaranteed to last a lifetime, breast implants have been known to last for a very long time. However, sometimes they have to be replaced. Exchanging implants is a concept that every woman should accept before undergoing breast augmentation. Exchanges might be necessitated by a problem or it might be because the patient wants to make a change in size. Breast implant exchange is the choice of many women who want to be their most confident and lead their best life.

Breast implant exchange FAQ:

How do I know if I am a candidate for breast implant exchange?

Patients are usually candidates for breast implant exchange if they have:

Breast Implant Leaks: The original silicone implant may have ruptured or might be leaking. The original saline implant may have leaked and is now deflated.

Change the breast implant type: Some women choose to switch from saline filled to silicone filled breast implants or vice versa. This is often done after evaluating the pros and cons of each type. In some women with saline filled breast implants and thin breast tissue may have visible rippling. This is less prevalent with silicone filled implants. This is one possible reason for a decision to exchange.

Newer generation breast implant options are now  available in the market: Older silicone filled breast implants from the 1980’s and early 1990’s are often replaced with newer products (while the older versions had thinner walls and were prone to leakage, newer versions like the Gummy Bear Breast Implants are more resistant to rupture and do not leak).

Change in breast implant size: Some women find that over time their needs may have changed. Their body may have changed due to weight changes or pregnancy. This can mean that a larger or smaller size breast implant might be desirable.

Capsular Contraction (scar tissue): One of the complications that may arise from breast augmentation with implants is excess scar tissue formation around the implants. Sometimes the scar tissue can cause the breast implant to feel hard or tight. It may even lead to implant rupture. Capsule formation around the breast implant is another reason women elect to replace their implants.

Change in breast implant shape and position: Some women elect to have a new implant inserted in order to change the position or the shape. The new gummy bear breast implants come with the option of a tear drop shape that could give the augmented breast a more natural shape in the upper pole and cleavage area.

Where  incisions are made for breast implant exchange?

Dr. Long, MD, a Board Certified Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon usually performs breast implant exchange through the original surgical scar if it is indicated. However, incisions for breast implant exchange can be placed in multiple areas depending on the technique. They can be made in the crease where the breast meets the chest (inframammary fold), around the areola (the darker skin surrounding your nipple -periareolar), or in the armpit. These incisions are discreetly placed where the incision and scar line will be least noticeable. Dr. Long, MD. most commonly uses the inflammatory incision for breast implant exchange because is the one that has been demonstrated to give the greatest control of the breast implant pocket and therefore gives more reliable results.

What to expect during breast implant exchange with implants surgery:

You will undergo breast implant exchange under general anesthesia at the fully accredited surgery center where Dr. Long routinely performs surgery. The procedure takes approximately 2 hours to complete. Dr. Long closes incisions with dissolving stitches and places you in a supportive bra for your comfort during recovery. Generally, this procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. You will need to have a friend or family member drive you to and from the surgery center and assist you for the first 24-48 hours after surgery.

What to expect after breast implant exchange:

Patients may have varying degrees of temporary bruising, swelling, and discomfort. Dr. Long, MD will prescribe medication to help with any soreness after surgery. You will wear a special support bra after surgery. You will be up and moving around on the day of surgery.

Depending on your type of employment, you may return to work between 7-14 days after your breast procedure. Stitches will dissolve and do not need to be removed. Swelling in your breasts may take a few weeks to disappear. Dr. Long will closely follow your recovery to ensure you are able to resume normal exercise and activity.

Is breast-feeding possible after getting breast implant exchange?

If you have breast-fed a baby before augmentation, it is very likely you will be able to do so after surgery. Statistically, small-breasted women have more difficulty with breast-feeding, so augmentation rarely changes a woman’s ability to breast-feed.

Are there potential side effects after breast implant exchange?

There are some risks associated with breast implant exchange; however, few patients experience problems:

Capsular formation (scar tissue): scar build up around the implant can cause encapsulation that can be relieved, as necessary, with surgery. This is more common with silicone implants.

Numbness: usually temporary, numbness may occur in the breast skin or nipple.

Leaking implant: the saline (salt water) solution is harmless and will be absorbed by the body and the implant will need to be replaced. An MRI scan is recommended to determine if a silicone implant has leaked.

How are mammograms affected after breast implant exchange?

Depending upon your age and health history, continue to have mammograms on a regular basis.

These are some of the facts about mammograms in patients that have undergone breast implant exchange:

Subglandular implant placement makes mammograms more difficult. In this position, there is a slightly higher risk of forming scar tissue that contracts around the implants.

Rippling of the implant is more likely to be visible in the subglandular position.

Submuscular implant placement allows mammograms to be taken more easily. In this position, you are less likely to form scar tissue around the implant and to have visible surface irregularities.

Why go to a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for Breast Implant Exchange?

Practitioners who are not residency trained and Board Certified to perform breast implant exchange have been found to have higher rate of complications. One of the most common complaints is minimal improvement, asymmetries, “operated look”, etc.  Always look for the ASPS logo, The Symbol of Excellence.

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