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Breast Implant Removal in Singapore - Preparation, Recovery, Cost

doctor showing a breast implant in his hand

Breast augmentation implants have helped a large number of ladies to boost their appearance and self-esteem. Based on a survey study of 225 women who underwent breast augmentation, 98% of the participants were satisfied with the appearance of their breasts after their reconstructive surgery. Many even reported that the outcomes exceeded their expectations.

However, despite the high success rate of this plastic surgery, there are still some patients who seek to remove their breast implants. What can be the reasons for that? How is a breast implant removal procedure done and how much does it cost in Singapore? In this article, we will cover these and other questions associated with the removal of implants.

What are the reasons to remove a breast implant?

Women may consider removing their implants for many different reasons. It might be simply a personal decision or in some cases, it might be medically necessary. In addition, the average lifespan of breast implants is around 10-15 years. So if you have been having your implants for so long it might be time to remove or replace them with new ones.

What personal reasons may lead to the removal of the breast implant?

  • Outcomes are not satisfactory. Despite being a relatively uncommon problem, there are some patients who are unhappy with the results of their breast augmentation. In most cases, it happens when a thin woman chose to have very large implants that are not proportionate with the rest of her body.
  • Changes in the form of the breasts. There are a variety of reasons which may lead to changes in the breast shape including capsular contracture, implant rupture, gravity, weight fluctuations and so forth. A saline implant is usually more prone to noticeable rippling and changes in appearance than a silicone implant. That is why patients with saline implants are more likely to consider explantation procedures.
  • Change in preferences. Sometimes ladies simply change their minds regarding breast implant surgery. Some of them might have wanted augmentation at some point in their lives, but later decide they want to look more natural.

When the removal of implants might be medically necessary?

  • Capsular contracture. This is one of the most common reasons why women may need to remove their implants. Capsular contracture is when you have an implant placed inside the breast and the scar tissue forms around it. While everybody gets a tiny little film of breast tissue, there are some people in which that film of tissue gets firm and tightly over time. It can be painful, uncomfortable and noticeable.
  • Implant rupture and leaking. Implant rupture is a potential side effect that you may experience after breast augmentation. Some of the symptoms that may indicate leaking include pain in the breast, changes in its shape, lumps and others. The condition usually requires the removal of the implant.
  • Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This kind of immune system cancer normally requires the removal of implants. However, it occurs very rarely. Please note that this disease has nothing to do with breast cancer.
  • Symptoms that refer to Breast implant illness. Although it is not a confirmed medical diagnosis, Breast implant illness is still something that makes ladies consider implant removal surgery. Patients who are suffering from this self-reported condition typically complain of fatigue, poor concentration, headache, depression and so forth.

It is also not uncommon for women with implants to be scared and feel concerned about the possibility of developing any diseases and medical conditions. Such thoughts may prompt them to undergo breast implant removal surgery.

How is the breast implant removal procedure done in Singapore?

breast implant removal surgery in progress

Breast implant removal or breast explantation is typically a day-case surgery that is fairly straightforward. It must be carried out only by skilled and board-certified plastic surgeons.

What does a breast implant removal surgery involve?

It is normally conducted in the following steps:

  • Appling anaesthesia. The operation can be performed under general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia. Which type of numbing will be used depends on the surgeon's decision and your preferences.
  • Making an incision. The surgeon may gain access to the implant by making cuts around the nipple or along the bottom fold of the breast. It depends on where the implants were initially placed - under or above the pectoralis major muscle (chest muscle).
  • Removing implants. The doctor may remove the implant alone or may do it along with the removal of the tissue capsule (capsulectomy). Which approach the surgeon will use depends on the particular case, the implant size and the reason for getting this surgery. Capsulectomy or the removal of the tissue capsule is usually performed when there is capsular contracture. This surgery allows the breast tissue to stick back down to the chest wall and seal up the empty space left by the implant.
  • Closing incisions. The skin cuts might be stitched or closed with a special skin adhesive. The incision is usually made in the same region as that of the initial breast implant placement in order to avoid additional scarring.

The breast explantation procedure can be performed alone or might be combined either with breast implant replacement surgery or a breast lift, depending on your preferences and goals.

How long does it take for breast implant removal?

Sometimes breast explantation surgery can be completed in less than an hour, but in some cases, the process may take longer than 3 hours. Many factors may determine the time frame including the complexity of the procedure and the experience of the surgeon.

The entire procedure will likely take less than an hour if breast implant removal is done without removing the tissue capsule. When the tissue capsule has to be removed along with your implant, the operation could take a bit longer. Breast implant removal may take up to three hours when combined with a breast lift or implant replacement.

How painful is breast explantation surgery?

Breast implant removal is normally not a painful procedure. Your surgeon will apply local or general anaesthesia before making any incisions onto the skin. Thus, you will not feel any discomfort during the operation itself.

You can expect slight to moderate soreness after the effect of anaesthesia wears off. However, the pain is typically less than that with breast augmentation. It will usually quickly resolve within 2-3 days. Until that time, you can manage the discomfort with painkiller medications.

What to expect before and after breast explantation surgery?

Preoperative care and recovery from breast explantation surgery are similar to those from breast augmentation or other cosmetic breast procedures. However, the healing after implant removal is often easier and quicker.

How to prepare for breast implant removal?

One of the most important parts of the preparation for breast implant removal is to pick the right plastic surgeon. You want to feel secure and comfortable with your doctor. Once you are in the hands of the right specialist, he or she will provide you with special pre-and post-surgery instructions.

You may be asked to do the following in order to prepare for the surgical procedure:

  • Stop using tobacco at least 10-14 days before the date of your upcoming operation. It is typically recommended to do this before any kind of surgery because smoking can enhance the likelihood of complications during and after the procedure.
  • Do not use blood-thinning medications or supplements two weeks before your breast explantation surgery. Their use may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Pick a caregiver or someone that will be with you for at least 2 days after your operation. Breast implant removal is typically done as day surgery and you will not need to stay overnight in the clinic. That is why you should have someone take you home after the operation and stay with you for a couple of days.

What is the recovery from breast explant surgery?

woman fully recovered after breast explant surgery

The recovery time from breast explant surgery is normally around 10-14 days. Your plastic surgeon should explain to you in detail what you can and cannot do during the healing period. It is crucial that you strictly follow all of the advice.

Here is what you can expect during your recovery from breast implant removal surgery.

  • It is normal to experience some swelling and bruising during the first few days following your operation. To minimize them, you will be recommended to use a support bra or a compression garment.
  • Many patients also have minor pain and soreness for the first 1 or 2 days. These can be efficiently managed through over the counter pain medications.
  • In order for your body to heal properly, you should give it some time to rest during the first 2-3 days after the operation. You should also refrain from exercising or lifting heavy weights for several weeks.
  • Some women are able to return to work after 1 or 2 weeks. However, the recovery period may vary from individual to individual. It greatly depends on the complexity of the surgery and the ability of your body to heal.

What are the possible risks and complications of breast explant surgery?

Some of the complications and side effects associated with surgery to remove a breast implant include:

  • swelling and bruising
  • infection
  • bleeding of the chest wall
  • injury of the chest wall (usually related to capsulectomy
  • seroma (fluid accumulation)
  • a formation of a new scar on the incision site
  • complications related to anaesthesia.

What is the average cost to have breast implants removed in Singapore?

The price of breast explant surgery in Singapore may vary greatly starting from $3500 and reaching up to $10000.

On average, most patients pay around $5500 and $6000 to have their breast implants removed.

What affects the cost of breast implant removal surgery?

Here are some factors that may have a significant impact on the total cost of your breast explant procedure.

  • The complexity of breast surgery. As we mentioned earlier, you may undergo only a breast explantation surgery or you may combine it with other breast surgery like a breast lift. It goes without saying that, getting additional treatment will cost you more money.
  • Type of anaesthesia used. What kind of anaesthesia (local or general) will be used during the implant removal process will also influence the total cost of the surgery. Local anaesthesia tends to be slightly cheaper than general anaesthesia.
  • Plastic surgeon fees. Doctors in Singapore have different price lists for different procedures they offer. In general, the more skilled and experienced the surgeon, the more expensive the procedures.
  • Facility fees. Facilities fees will vary depending on where you choose to have surgery. If it is performed in a clinic with its own operating room, the facility fees are generally cheaper than when it is performed in a hospital.

Does insurance cover breast explant surgery?

Health insurance, in most cases, will not provide coverage for the removal of breast implants. However, there are some circumstances in which it is possible to receive assistance from your insurance company.

There are two main factors that will determine if you will receive coverage and these are: why you got breast implants and why you want to remove them. It may be the case that you had your breasts implants just to increase your breast size and improve your look, but recently changed your mind and want to have them removed. The cost of your surgery will not be covered by insurance in a situation like this.

In the case where the implants were used for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy (breast cancer surgery), and their removal is medically necessary, the insurance company will probably cover the cost of the explant surgery.

Frequently asked questions

Shens Clinic, 3 Killiney Road, Winsland House 1, #09-08, Singapore 239519

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