Over the last 15 years, the quality of breast implants has improved dramatically. The modern implants that are now available are providing women with incredible, natural-looking breast augmentation results that help them look and feel their best. For this reason, many women who have older models of silicone gel or saline breast implants are now opting for implant replacement or breast implant exchange surgery.
Breast implant exchange is also a good option for women who would like to improve the results of a breast augmentation procedure they’ve had in the past or are interested in increasing or decreasing the size of their breasts. Here at The Naderi Center, we are pleased to offer breast implant exchange to patients in northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area at our Chevy Chase, MD, and Herndon, VA locations.
What is Breast Implant Exchange?
Breast implant exchange is a surgical procedure that involves removing and replacing a patient’s existing breast implants. This implant removal procedure may be a patient’s choice or a medical necessity if the original implants have ruptured or have evidence of leakage. Women often choose breast implant exchange because they feel that their first choice of implants was too small or large and they would like to achieve a different result.
Benefits of Breast Implant Exchange
There are a number of benefits patients can gain by undergoing breast implant exchange surgery. In the event they believe their current implants are too small or too large, breast implant exchange surgery can help patients achieve their aesthetic goals. Some women also seek a more natural appearance and wish to switch to a more modern implant type.
If a patient developed complications such as capsular contracture after their initial breast augmentation procedure, this surgical procedure may correct any problems and relieve discomfort. Breast implant exchange may also be necessary in the event of implant failure or in cases where the implants have worn out over time. Lastly, breast implant exchange can increase a patient’s confidence and improve their overall quality of life.
Saline vs. Silicone Implants
During a breast implant exchange, there are two types of implants that women can choose as replacements. They are made of either saline or silicone gel and each type offers a number of advantages and disadvantages.
Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water. They are inserted empty and filled once they are in place. This means that a smaller incision is used to place the implant. In the event that saline breast implants do rupture, the sterile salt solution is absorbed into the patient’s body with no health risks. Also, saline implants are more cost-effective than silicone implants, making them a good option for patients on a budget.
The most noteworthy disadvantage of saline implants, however, is that they are heavier and firmer than silicone implants. They may not look and feel as natural as silicone implants and are prone to wrinkling or rippling, especially in thinner patients with smaller natural breasts.
Silicone implants are pre-filled filled with silicone gel, which is a sticky, thick fluid. They are lighter and softer than saline implants, offering a more natural look and feel. While ruptures are rare with silicone implants, they can only be discovered through an MRI, ultrasound, or other imaging test if they do occur. Additionally, the silicone gel cannot be naturally absorbed by the body if the implants do happen to rupture, which may cause further complications. Silicone implants are also more expensive than saline implants.
Good Candidates for Breast Implant Exchange
There are a number of situations in which a woman may benefit from breast implant exchange surgery. Women may be good candidates for this procedure if they:
- would like to increase or decrease the size of their implants
- have silicone or saline breast implants that have ruptured or altered in shape
- are experiencing scar tissue complications
- need their implants repositioned
In addition, women who have gone through significant body changes as a result of pregnancy or weight fluctuations may desire a breast implant exchange following their initial breast augmentation.
The consultation is the perfect time for prospective patients to find out if they are a good candidate for this procedure.
What to Expect During a Breast Implant Exchange Consultation
Women who are interested in undergoing breast implant revision surgery are encouraged to schedule a private consultation at our Herndon, VA office. During the consultation, prospective patients will meet with Dr. Erica Anderson, our breast and body specialist plastic surgeon, to discuss their aesthetic goals and reasons for seeking an implant exchange.
Dr. Anderson will go over the patient’s medical history and will typically ask questions such as “when was your last breast augmentation,” “when did you have your first augmentation,” and/or “do you hope to increase or decrease the size of your breasts?” The consultation is also an ideal opportunity for patients to ask questions about the surgery and recovery process.
Preparing for a Breast Implant Exchange Surgery
There are a number of ways patients will need to prepare for a breast implant exchange. If they smoke, they will need to stop well in advance of the surgery as cigarettes and other nicotine products can interfere with the healing process. They should also discontinue the use of alcohol, vitamins, aspirin, and ibuprofen for at least two weeks before and after the surgery. Lastly, since they will not be able to drive after the surgery, it is important for patients to arrange for transportation to and from our northern Virginia facilities.
The Breast Implant Exchange Procedure
Breast implant exchange is similar to a primary breast implant surgery. The surgeon will typically reopen the original incisions in order to reduce scarring during implant removal and replacement.
The nature of the procedure may differ depending on the type of implant that has been chosen for placement. In some cases, the implant will be inserted under the breast tissue but above the muscle, while in other instances it will be placed under the chest muscle.
Our board-certified plastic surgeon will design a customized treatment plan for each patient prior to performing the procedure. The implant exchange will be performed in an outpatient setting under general anesthesia and will take a few hours to complete.
Recovering from Breast Implant Exchange
After breast implant exchange surgery, patients can expect to heaviness in their chest. Pain medication can be prescribed to ease this discomfort, which should subside within a few days. The overall recovery time a patient will need depends on their job and daily activities.
In most cases, however, patients find recovery from breast implant exchange to be shorter than that of their initial breast augmentation. We encourage patients to refrain from vigorous activity for about 2-3 weeks and to take several days off of work.
Risks and Complications of Breast Implant Exchange
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and complications associated with breast implant exchange. These can include infection, bleeding, capsular contracture, and the need for further breast implant revision. By trusting an experienced plastic surgeon at The Naderi Center to perform this procedure, these risks and complications are significantly reduced.
Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Implant Exchange
Is pregnancy safe after breast implant exchange surgery?
Yes. Breast implants do not pose any additional risks for pregnant women. However, because pregnancy and nursing can lead to breast sagging, we recommend that women wait until they are done having children before undergoing breast implant exchange surgery.
How long do breast implants last?
Although breast implants may last a lifetime, it is possible for them to leak over time. In the event that a saline implant leaks, the saltwater will harmlessly absorb into the patient’s body, but will cause asymmetry. Leaks are more dangerous with silicone implants as they can only be detected through an imaging test and the material cannot be absorbed.
What is capsular contracture?
Capsular contracture is one of the most common complications associated with breast implant surgery. It occurs when hard scar tissue forms around the implant. When a patient experiences capsular contracture, their breasts may feel firm or hard as a result of the scar tissue squeezing the implant. A breast implant exchange procedure may resolve this complication.
Can breast implant exchange be paired with a breast lift?
Yes. A breast lift is designed to raise the position of the breasts and to create a more attractive, youthful appearance. It may be a good option for patients who are bothered by sagging breasts following pregnancy, weight fluctuations, or the natural process of aging.
Why Choose The Naderi Center?
Our board-certified plastic surgeons are highly skilled and experienced in performing breast implant surgery on patients from all walks of life in the Washington D.C. area. Whether you’d like to change the size of your breast implants, improve the results from your previous procedure, or resolve a complication, you can count on our team to help.
We take the time to get to know your particular concerns and desires so that we can design a customized treatment plan just for you. Our goal is to leave you with beautiful, natural-looking results that restore your confidence.
Schedule a Consultation at The Naderi Center
If you’re wondering whether you’re a good candidate for breast implant exchange or have further questions about plastic surgery, it is in your best interest to schedule a private consultation at our northern Virginia or Maryland offices. Call our office in Herndon at 703-481-0002 or Chevy Chase at 301-222-2020 or fill out our convenient online contact form. We look forward to meeting you!