Breast Implant Removal

Suffering from painful breast implants can make daily life a struggle, and lead to other ongoing health issues. There are a number of reasons why implants hurt or a patient should feel the need to change their implants, which if not addressed this can lead to further distress and discomfort. Some of the most common reasons for changing your existing implants are down to a personal preference in size, shape or manufacturer.

What Does This Surgery Involve?

Although breast implants are generally safe, occasionally they will fail. If the problem is detected early enough, breast implant removal is usually straightforward, but if the damaged implant is left, the problem will worsen. This is because the scar tissue around the breast will continue to thicken and deform, causing further pain. If the implant has ruptured, surgery will be more complicated

Depending on your personal situation, you may also require a capsulectomy.

This is the surgical removal of capsular contracture. Capsular contracture is where tight scar tissue contracts around the breast implant, leading to potential complications.

There are four grades of capsular contracture which will be discussed with you during your consultation:

  • Grade I Capsular Contracture – the breast is normally soft and looks natural
  • Grade II Capsular Contracture – the breast is a little firm but looks normal
  • Grade III Capsular Contracture – the breast is firm and looks abnormal with visible distortion
  • Grade IV Capsular Contracture – the breast is hard, painful and looks abnormal with greater distortion

Breast implant removal surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic. It normally takes between one and a half to three hours to complete, but this is dependent upon your individual case.


The recovery time for breast implant removal is usually similar to that of the initial surgery. You should expect to be off work for at least a week and strenuous activity should be avoided for a minimum of three weeks.

This article was written by The McIndoe Centre, in collaboration with Paul Banwell BSc MB BS FRCS (Eng) FRCS (Plast) Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. All information, advice and procedures were updated on 17th September 2019.

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