What is it?
Secondary breast implant surgery is an umbrella term that covers several different procedures that might be undertaken when breast implants have been in place for some time and/or need to be changed.
Why might secondary breast implant surgery be needed?
Secondary breast implant surgery is carried out when there is either a problem with your breast implants or a change in your breast shape or size over time or after pregnancy, ageing, weight loss or other body changes. Some examples include ruptured breast implants, capsular contracture (tight scar tissue around implant which causes your breasts to feel hard, to have a change in shape (deformed shape) and/or to be painful), sagging of the breast tissue, poor position of implant, visibility of the implants, weight of the implants, persistent infection, asymmetry between breasts.
How long do breast implants last?
On average breast implants last 10 to 15 years. Some women may have their implants in place many years longer without a problem while others may need to change theirs sooner than this.
What surgery can be done?
This will depend on why you are having the surgery, how your breast tissue is after having implants in place and what end result you would like. The surgeries include one or a combination of implant exchange, capsulectomy (removal of the scar capsule around an implant), implant removal, mastopexy, lipofilling (fat transfer), adjustment of the implant position and adjustment of breast shape.
Sometimes a scan is needed in advance of secondary breast implant surgery but not always. Sometimes a problem such as an implant rupture is discovered incidentally on a breast scan undertaken for a different reason. Scans that may be needed include mammograms, breast ultrasound and MRI scans. You will be advised at the consultation if any are needed in your case.
Considerations in secondary breast implant surgery
This is very individualised or bespoke surgery. The complexity of the surgery will depend on the condition of your implants, your breasts and the end result that you would like to achieve. Please bear in mind that secondary breast implant surgery is often more complex surgery than placing your breast implants first time round. If you have had your implants for a long time and/or they are large implants, they can leave a lasting effect on your breast tissue. Your breast tissue may also have changed over the years due to pregnancy, breast-feeding, ageing or weight changes. It is not always possible to achieve the same results or to achieve them as easily as done in your first implant surgery.
If you are too soon after pregnancy or still breast-feeding, are planning to lose weight or are overweight, it may not be the right time to have breast surgery. If you smoke or have significant health problems, this will need to be assessed and you may be advised to wait or not to have breast surgery.
You will usually have tapes on the incisions. You will need to wear a support bra for 6 weeks. Secondary breast implant surgery is done as a day case or with a one night stay in hospital. You can shower with care after 48 hours.
You will be advised to gently mobilise carefully the first week or two. On average 2 to 3 weeks off work are needed. No heavy lifting or strenuous activity is allowed for 6 weeks. Some forms of exercise can be restarted at 4 weeks. Most exercise is restarted at 6 weeks. Driving is not allowed until you are safe to perform an emergency stop. Recovery can be longer in some cases particularly if capsulectomy procedures have been done. Individual procedures will have specific factors about their recovery as well. (more details on their separate webpages)
Unfortunately, complications can occur after all surgery and you need to be aware of this. Ms Nugent will do her utmost to reduce your risk as much as she can. This includes the health and procedure advice she gives you before surgery, the care and precautions she takes during surgery and the advice she gives you after surgery. Some of the complications that can happen include slow healing, infection, bleeding, poor scarring, asymmetry, pain, numbness or sensitivity in the skin, contour irregularities, seroma (fluid build-up), clots in the legs and lungs, loss of nipple sensation, loss of nipple or breast tissue, implant rupture, implant malposition, capsular contracture and BIA-ALCL (a rare lymphoma associated with some breast implant types).
Most patients who undergo secondary breast implant surgery after breast implant problems achieve their goals and are very satisfied with the surgery. Success depends on being prepared for your surgery, choosing the right procedure, the surgery itself and recovering well. All steps in the journey are crucial!
Download the detailed information booklet on this page to read more and book a consultation to discuss your individual circumstances with Ms Nugent! Visit the specific breast procedure pages that you are interested in on this website to read more. There are information booklets available to download from the specific procedure pages as well.