What to Consider If You’re Thinking About Exchanging Your Breast Implants

There are many reasons that patients consider exchanging their breast implants. The original surgery outcome may not have met expectations due to implant size or the incomplete correction of a developmental breast deformity or asymmetry. There may be a complication of surgery such as implant migration, capsular contracture or implant rupture. Time may have taken its toll and the breasts may have changed in association with pregnancies and weight change. Or there may be a preference to change the size of the implant.

How is my Implant Size Selected?

When you first consider breast augmentation surgery, several decisions need to be made during your consultation.

Your breast implants need to fit both the chest and breast. The first measurement to determine is how wide the breast implant is going to be. Your breast should spread evenly from the centre to the side of the chest, with natural and beautiful curves around the border. The breast implant should combine with your natural breast to fill this zone. While there will be a breast implant width that is optimal for your chest and breast, an acceptable outcome can still be achieved within a margin of that width.

The next decision that you will need to make is in regards to the projection of the implant. You can receive low, medium, high and sometimes even extra high projection implants. This will be how outcomes are modified, given a constant breast implant width. Other factors that need to be considered however, include the nipple position, the tightness of the inframammary crease beneath the breast, and how much skin laxity is present. Of course size is not the only important consideration: a beautiful breast will also have the nipple sitting at the right position, usually pointing forward or slightly upwards, about halfway up the breast or a little bit more.

When it comes to selecting a breast implants, it’s important to be realistic. Your body frame, weight and the anatomy of your chest wall and breast will all make a difference to what choices are possible and what a specific size will look and feel like.

Exchanging Your Breast Implants: What You Need to Know

It can be very disappointing when revision surgery becomes necessary, especially if it hasn’t been long since the original procedure. Secondary surgery can be relatively straightforward, such as a size change, but is usually more complex and time-consuming than the original procedure and may involve additional manoeuvres such as the use of an internal bra/tissue scaffold, mastopexy/breast lift or fat grafting. During secondary surgery, you may also have to deal with the uncertain impact of previous scarring.

The most important initial step is to know what you want to achieve from revision surgery and to communicate clearly with your surgeon. When we know what your goals and expectations are, you can be accurately assessed to determine how completely your concerns can be met. You should also be prepared to have to take some additional factors into consideration this time around, including scar tissue and stretched skin. Your breasts will have changed since you’ve inserted implants and your surgeon will need to consider these changes before proceeding.

During your consultation, A/Prof Magnusson will take you through all of your options, including type of implant, implant placement, requirement for additional components such as internal bra, mastopexy or fat grafting. Your recovery period will usually be quite similar to your original experience the first time around. Where possible, we will aim to use the same incisions as your first surgery to ensure that no additional scarring is necessary.

Before Your Revision Surgery

There are a few things you should keep in mind before you decide to start the breast implant revision/exchange process:

  • The waiting period. Your breasts need to have stabilised after your original surgery. For the first few months after your primary surgery, you’re going to be sore and swollen. Your implants need time to settle, which only happens after six to 12 months. It’s usually best to only consider implant exchange surgery after at least six months and preferably longer.
  • The size. As you know, implants are measured in cc’s, which are cubic centimetres or grams. For every 150 to 200 cc’s, you will be changing your breasts by one to one and a half cup sizes. If you are considering exchanging your breast implants for a size change, the amount of difference being achieved needs to be balanced against the risks of surgery.
  • The surgeon. You should initially communicate with your original surgeon who is likely to have your satisfaction as an important treatment goal as well. A/Prof Magnusson regularly performs revision implant surgery of all types incorporating internal bras, mastopexy, implants and fat grafting as required to meet individual goals.

Revision surgery doesn’t always mean that something went wrong the first time, it simply means your preferences have changed.