Government agencies advocate for replacement breast implant surgery every 10 years, whether there are any arising problems or not. Despite that, patients are not thrilled to go under the knife again or don’t have the finances to do that. Here is everything you need to know about revision surgery in Singapore and why it is important to consider it soon after you hit the 10-year mark.

What is the Procedure to Replace Breast Implants Like?

It has to be said that breast revision surgery is almost identical to the original procedure but then again, there may be some differences to it. Your specialist will probably use the existing incision to remove the old implants.

The course of action will depend on why you are undergoing surgery. Here are a few examples with breast augmentation revision:

  • Sometimes the implant is malpositioned and has to be fixed. This means the surgeon will need to reconstruct the implant pocket by manipulating the scar tissue and performing other manoeuvres. They are likely to use the original incision site and may recommend going for an acellular dermal matrix (ADM) product if more breast tissue is needed to finish the procedure.
  • If implant rippling has occurred, the specialist will either remove the old breast implants or reposition them so that the creases are not visible.
  • If the position of your nipples has to be changed, additional incisions will be made. Three incisions will be carried out in different areas if a lot of tightening and lifting is needed or a huge portion of the breast skin has to be removed at that.
  • If the reason you have to undergo breast revision surgery is capsular contracture, the expert will use the original incision to take out the implant and place a new one.
  • If you are willing to change your breast size, the board-certified plastic surgeon will still go for the original incision, only they may have to enlarge the pocket. If you are aiming for smaller breast size, the pocket will have to be reduced.
  • The cosmetic procedure can be used to add more breast volume after weight loss. Or you can have breast reduction after a significant weight gain.
  • A breast lift will be offered to those who have started to experience deflation in their breast tissue.
  • You can have the breast implants filled with a saline solution or silicone gel, just like you did during your breast augmentation surgery.

Please note that although pretty common, revision surgery is no walk in the park. Sometimes plastic surgeons come across problems that were not present the first time around. For example, if your system created significant scarring around the implants after the original breast augmentation, this may make the operation trickier and lengthier.

Also, remember that you will be put to sleep prior to the intervention and you may have to stay at the clinic overnight so that your vitals are monitored 24/7.

How Much Does Breast Implant Revision Surgery Cost in Singapore?

The price of breast implant replacement surgery in Singapore varies from $5,500 to $10,000 and upward depending on a bunch of factors like clinic fees, board-certified plastic surgeon experience, and type of procedure. If it is performed for cosmetic reasons, it is not included in the policies of insurance companies; therefore it is the patient that covers the expenses.

Here is a breakdown of the costs (ballpark figures) of breast implant removal:

  • Consultation from someone with plastic surgery training: $150-$200+
  • Silicone or saline breast implants: $2,000+
  • Medications: $200+
  • Surgical procedure: $7,500+
  • Anaesthesia: $1,700+

For women with mastectomy resulting from breast cancer, things will be different. Companies may cover any subsequent surgery including breast reconstruction and replacement implants. You should definitely have a discussion with a healthcare provider about your options.

Consultation and Perioperative Period of Breast Augmentation Revision

woman consulting plastic surgeon for her breast augmentation revision surgery

Just like your initial breast augmentation, it’s worth consulting your plastic surgeon and map out your journey. You will not be rushed into the operating room. First and foremost, a physical exam has to be performed to assess your case. Then, you should also vocalise your expectations about the procedure.

While you are still at this stage, plastic surgeons like to talk about any characteristics of your body that can limit the results. Listen carefully or take notes, if you will. It is vital to get a sense of what the outcome will be like so you are mentally prepared.

If you don’t think you will be okay with the way things turn out, now is the time to speak up and clear up any confusion. Make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into. This will save up loads of disappointment in the future.

You should prepare a list of questions to ask your board-certified plastic surgeon and you should also expect to answer a ton of questions about your health state, ingestion of medications, supplements, and herbs, as well as alcohol use. It goes without saying, you have to be honest. Some of the stuff may seem insignificant to you but it may put a roadblock in your recovery or even pose a health threat.

When it comes to the physical exam, the doctor will check out your breast skin quality, thickness, and elasticity. The distribution of fat will be noted. It doesn’t matter if you already had this type of exam during your initial breast implant surgery. You need to acknowledge that your body continues to change day by day and it is not the same as it was before.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon Before Breast Implant Replacement Surgery

  1. Am I a good fit for breast revision surgery?
  2. What are the limitations of breast surgery?
  3. Are you board-certified?
  4. Can I see your medical licence and certificates?
  5. What should I do/not do before breast implant removal surgery?
  6. What things should I prepare/buy before surgery?
  7. Can I see before and after photos of your breast implant removal work?
  8. What are the risks and complications of breast revision surgery?
  9. What do I need to watch out for after the procedure?
  10. Who shall I contact if I experience a problem following my breast implant revision?
  11. Will the breast implants be placed below or above the pectoral muscle and how does that affect looks?

Aftercare and Recovery from Breast Implant Replacement

It’s not a secret that recovery is super individual and depends on the healing powers specific to one’s body. Yet, there are certain things you can expect to have in common with other patients. For instance, your chest will be covered in bandages to keep the incisions from getting infected. The dressing will be changed frequently.

Then, you will begin to wear a surgical bra that will keep everything together. It is crucial that you wear a non-wire bra because the wires may exert unnecessary pressure on the breast implants and impact the results.

Prepare to have drains attached to your body for several days. You may have to keep them on even when you go back home. The team will tell you how to care for them. They will also provide instructions on what to do about your wound.

You will be given medication to curb the pain. Remember to not take a shower for the first 48 hours. With drains in, you have to limit yourself to sponge baths until you can take them out. And finally, you will need several days off work.

What Happens if You Don’t Replace Breast Implants?

breast imlpants on pink background

Not replacing implants after a certain time brings along potential complications. Some people live with their existing implants and never get to experience a medical problem after their breast augmentation surgery.

For others, however, things don’t go as planned. Over time, their breasts lose their shape or a silicone rupture occurs that can lead to pain and deformation of the implanted devices. Another concern is capsular contracture. It begins with the body working hard to isolate the foreign objects in your breasts by creating soft scar tissue around them. That’s a normal response of the immune system and one that should not bother you.

Where things can go awry is if that scar grows so thick and hard that it starts to affect the implant itself. There are different grades that can be used to rate the condition and not every case produces symptoms initially. It is known that most capsular contractures (around 75%) will present within 24 months of the breast implant surgery being carried out. This is due to the fact that scars form during healing.

Why capsular contracture occurs is not well understood. For some people, genetics play a crucial role. For example, if you have an autoimmune disease, you are at a bigger risk of developing capsular contracture.

Another possible trigger has nothing to do with how the body is reacting to the breast implants but rather with the introduction of staph bacteria to the implant during surgery. As this happens, a thin layer of bacteria, dubbed biofilm, forms around the devices. It may generate a slight infection that does not necessarily come with symptoms. The natural defence mechanisms of the body kick in, as a result of which severe scar tissue develops around the breast implants. It eventually leads up to capsular contracture.

Please note that the exposure to biofilm does not suggest that the staff’s working environment is unhygienic. In many cases, the bacteria lives on the person’s skin undetected. It does not cause any symptoms.

Longevity of Saline and Silicone Breast Implants

You must have been told multiple times already that many breast implants come with a 10-year warranty and should therefore be replaced after a decade. However, every case is different and there is no way to know how your situation will change as time passes by.

Even though saline implants are considered less sturdy, they, too, have similar longevity to that of silicone implants. An important distinction has to be made, though. What makes all the difference is what happens if there is an implant rupture. When a saline implant ruptures, you can tell so by the obvious loss of fullness in the breasts. It results from the saltwater solution making its way into the adjacent breast tissue.

The good news is that it does no harm to the body and is resorbed by the immune system over time.

Let’s see how this compares to other types. When a silicone implant ruptures, the gel hangs inside the scar tissue capsule that grows during the healing phase. This retains most of the breast shape and shows no indications whatsoever that there is a problem with the items. The only way to detect it is via an MRI scan or ultrasound.

On average, the deflation rate for saline implants is about 1% a year, while the rupture rate of the most advanced silicone gel implants is 9% over 10 years.

Choosing New Implants for your Breast Implant Revision

Before you undertake a breast implant revision, you will have an important decision to make regarding your new implants. What size and type are they going to be? Surgeons are seeing a trend toward smaller implants now as opposed to the larger breasts from the early 2000s. Times have changed and so have people’s preferences. Nowadays, women don’t want to be too bulky or busty, which adds extra pressure on the shoulders and upper back anyway.

If you are opting for breast implant revision after pregnancy, it may be that your breasts have started to deflate. In that case, slightly larger breast implants will be recommended to correct the sagging.

In addition, patients are offered the alternative of staying the same size. There is nothing wrong with either option, really. It all depends on your goals and what your body can tolerate. You had better follow your doctor’s advice. They will take your desires into consideration.

FAQs on Breast Implant Revision Surgery

Why should I consider breast implant revision surgery?

You may be willing to undergo breast revision surgery if your breasts become misshapen because the implants have changed their position or have lost volume. It can happen after years of sitting within the chest wall. Every device has a certain shelf life. Most of them come with a lifetime guarantee but since the body never stays the same, the overlying breast tissue may also go through certain changes, which will affect how your breasts appear.

And although some implants may never have to be replaced, the majority of products need to go after a while. Last but not least, the costs of breast revision surgery don’t go through with insurance companies if you prolong the recommended 10-year period. This can be a pretty solid reason to consider breast implant removal.

How to tell that breast implants need replacing?

There aren’t always indications for that, so you have to go to your medical check-ups as often as you are advised but in most cases, you will experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of breast sensation
  • Breast tenderness
  • A deflated implant (and changes to breast shape)
  • A ruptured implant
  • An implant that has become too firm to the touch
  • An implant that sits too low or too high
  • Asymmetrical breasts
  • Discomfort and pain in the breasts

Keep in mind that there could be breast implant complications with the new prostheses too. No one can give you a 100% guarantee that you will not develop any problems at any point. However, choosing an appropriately qualified health practitioner and using the best products will play out in your favour. This is the best way to keep the risks of any surgical or invasive procedure as low as they can possibly be.

How will my boobs look after breast implant removal?

When you have breast implant removal, your breasts are likely to look droopy and deflated. One may appear to be slightly bigger than the other. They could also be misshapen. But no worries, the plastic surgeon will fix that.

What are the risks and complications of breast revision surgery?

Every invasive procedure carries risks. If you want to know the potential complications of anaesthesia, you should request more information from your doctor. Here are some of the risks involved: deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, fluid accumulation around the implant or under the skin (seromas), pulmonary and cardiac complications. Just so you know, you can still get capsular contracture or rupture in your saline/silicone implants.

How long is recovery from breast implant replacement?

Recovery from your breast implant replacement surgery will be the same as that of your previous surgery. It depends on your age, overall health, and immune system. Everybody heals at a different speed. That said, expect to spend at least 6 weeks refraining from arduous exercise and physical activity.

Is breast implant revision painful?

The breast implant removal is painless because it is performed under general anaesthesia. This applies to implant placement too. When you enter recovery, you may experience discomfort and pain but they can be successfully managed with OTC medication. The process is short-lived.

Can I have my breast implants removed but not replaced?

Of course, breast implant removal doesn’t mean you should get new breast implants right away. If you wish to keep your original boobs or even have breast reduction, you can do so. However, you may need to get a slight breast lift so that your bust still looks good afterwards. This is because after you have the breast implants removed, your chest will appear deflated and you might want to fix that.

The good news is that once you do so, you won’t have to be worried about capsular contracture and other implant complications. Neither will you have to undergo breast enlargement revision anymore.

What treatments can be paired with breast implant removal?

The procedure can be combined with abdominoplasty, liposuction, and blepharoplasty but you don’t need to add anymore treatments to the process if you don’t want to. It is entirely up to you and your plastic surgeon. Plus, sometimes the breast implant removal requires so much time that it is not always a good idea to pair it with other procedures.