Not 100% happy with your outcome after a breast augmentation? Or perhaps you have had your breast implants in for many years, and weight fluctuations, pregnancy and gravity have altered your result?
When should I remove or replace my breast implants?
This varies from patient to patient. Everyone is different and may or may not require revision at different points in time. As a general rule, it reasonable to expect 10 or more years from a breast augmentation and often women seek a change at that point for reasons more closely related to changes in their body shape, than problems with their implants. While some patients may seek a revision before the 10 year mark, we have known other patients who have happily gone decades with their original implants still intact.
Complications which may arise after breast augmentation include implant rupture and capsular contracture, which will require an implant removal revision surgery. If you are experiencing complications, the is the time to contact your original surgeon or an experienced Plastic Surgeon for review.
How to start your breast implant revision journey
If you only recently had surgery elsewhere, we recommend that you be patient before deciding if you like the end result as a lot changes in those early months. We do not see patients within 6 months following surgery elsewhere because the original doctor is required by law to provide post-operative care and surgery takes time to settle. This article explains some of that process.
We also have no insight into exactly how the surgery has been performed, the implants used and infection control employed so we can’t have a full insight into how patients from other clinics should be managed in the post-operative phase, unlike our own patients.
If you are experiencing a serious complication from surgery elsewhere such as an infection or wound breakdown, you should contact that clinic urgently. You should also consider presenting at emergency or your GP if you are unable to get in contact with that clinic.
If you remain unhappy about your results after 6 months and you have been unable to get an agreed path forward with your original doctor, then we recommend you see your GP for a referral to us and also a referral for an ultrasound before you see us. This way we can have a good idea of your medical history and any issues with your current implants before your initial consultation.
What are my surgical revision options?
Your surgical options will ultimately depend on your desired aesthetic result. In almost all implant removal cases, I perform an en bloc capsulectomy, meaning I not only removes the implants, but the entire capsule around the implants as well. Below we outline the different surgical options for implant removal or replacement, what these procedures entail and examples to demonstrate the outcomes.
Implant removal and replacement
Breast implant replacement surgery involves the removal of existing implants and replacement with new implants. Implant replacement can be used to correct improper technique and improve the appearance of the breasts, modify the size, shape or symmetry or update the implant material.
Implant removal and replacement surgery is from $18,000. Breast implant replacement typically does not attract a Medicare item number or health fund rebates. This cost is inclusive of Dr Moncrieff’s surgical fee, implants, hospital stay, garment, anaesthetist’s fee and LED therapy for scar minimisation and does vary upward depending on the complexity of the case and additional operating time required.
More information about breast implant replacement can be found here.
Implant removal and breast uplift
The most common procedure that I perform for women who wish to remove their implants without replacing them is an implant removal with a breast uplift. I generally does not recommend a removal without lift because the skin and tissue will usually be too stretched to retract and the result is not usually cosmetically pleasing. This can also lead to chronic skin irritation under the lax breast tissue. However, some women choose to stage this as two surgeries, just to be sure that they truly want the lift.
Implant removal and breast uplift surgery is from $16,000 for an insured patient. A lift is a more complex and time-consuming surgery that a replacement of an implant, so takes more time in theatre. This results in the extra fees for the hospital, anaesthetist, etc.
More information about what is involved in a surgical breast lift can be found here.
Implant removal without lift
In some cases, generally for smaller implants which have only been in a short time or younger patients with more 'elastic' skin, it is possible to remove implants and not lift the remaining skin. These women accept that there will be some laxity in the breast tissue that remains.
Implant removal surgery without a surgical lift ranges from $6,500-$10,000. This price point varies depending on the complexity of the removal and the patient’s private health insurance coverage.
More information about breast implant removal can be found here.
A common “add-on” my patients choose alongside their implant revision surgery is fat grafting. Fat transfer is the processing of removing fat from one area (commonly the lower abdomen, inner or outer thighs) and reinjecting it into another – in this case, the breasts! This can be a fantastic way to add volume back to the breasts without the use of another implant. It is important to note that fat transfer cannot change the shape of the breast, it can only add volume. For this reason, I will generally only recommend fat grafting as the “icing on the cake” when combined with a breast uplift or implant replacement for the best long-term result.
Fat grafting is from an additional $3000. More information about fat grafting can be found here.
Will Medicare cover the cost of my implant removal or replacement surgery?
If you can demonstrate that you are experiencing medical complications with your implants, such as capsular contracture or leakage, then you may be eligible for Medicare item number 45551. This item number is only valid if you are undergoing an implant removal or implant removal and uplift procedure, and does not apply to implant replacement. With this item number your private health fund will “kick in” and cover the cost of your hospital fees, and you will be able to claim a small portion of the surgical fee back from Medicare.
If you are experiencing not experiencing any symptoms or complications related to your current breast implants and are looking for revision surgery purely for cosmetic reasons, unfortunately Medicare cannot will not assist in the costs.
I’ve visited my GP for a referral and had an ultrasound: What is my next step?
For all of our patients considering any type of breast surgery, we highly recommend booking in for a 3D Vectra Surgery Simulation with our Practice Managers Jessica and Alicia before booking a consultation with me. Although our 3D Vectra machine is unable to produce an image of an implant removal or replacement, it is still a great opportunity to sit down and talk about the costs involved, your eligibility for rebates, and your timeline for surgery. This appointment is $100, which is rebated against your consultation with me is you do decide to go ahead.
Generally, the wait time for a 3D Vectra appointment is 4-6 weeks, in comparison to the 14 week wait for a consultation with me. You do have the option to hold a surgery date from this appointment, and your consultation with me can be fast tracked.
Dr Nicholas Moncrieff, Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon
About Dr Moncrieff
Dr Moncrieff focuses exclusively on breast reductions, breast lifts, breast augmentation, tummy tucks and body lifts.
He is one of only a handful of Plastic Surgeons across Australia with this sole breast and body focus.
Dr Moncrieff has performed thousands of surgical procedures over more than two decades in medicine. Over 20,000 of these procedures have been in Newcastle.