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Why Would Someone Exchange Breast Implants?

Oct 9, 2007
Breast augmentation is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures available today for a multitude of good reasons. The surgery is safe, predictable, and can produce significant changes in a woman's appearance almost instantaneously. Most women that receive breast implants are extremely happy with the results due to improved self-confidence, a more aesthetic and proportionate body contour, and better fitting clothing. Every year more and more women elect to undergo this surgery, often after seeing excellent results in friends or relatives.

One common misconception of women considering breast augmentation is that once the implants are placed, they stay in permanently. Although there certainly are women who have had the same implants for many decades, most women will have their implants exchanged within the first ten to fifteen years after surgery for various reasons. This implant exchange procedure is generally much easier and less invasive than the original surgery, since the pocket for the breast implant already exists.

One of the most frequent reasons for implant removal and replacement is the woman's desire to change the size of the implants. The majority of women who have breast augmentation surgery are extremely happy with their new size. Some women, however, decide later on that they would be happier with a change in cup size. In such cases, these women elect to have their implants removed and replaced with larger or smaller implants.

Another reason women choose to exchange their implants is due to the implant material. The most common implants (what people refer to as "saline implants") consist of a silicone shell filled with saline solution. These implants look excellent in most women, however, some patients are concerned that the implants feel firmer or are less "natural" appearing than they would like. Others complain of "ripples" that can be seen and felt along the sides of the breasts.

This can be corrected by changing the saline implants to silicone filled implants, which are typically softer and more natural feeling than saline implants. An exciting new innovation is the cohesive gel silicone implant (sometimes referred to as a "gummy-bear implant"). Cohesive gel implants have the feel of a liquid silicone implant, but if they rupture the silicone maintains its shape much like a gummy bear.

Both saline and silicone implants may experience leaks and ruptures of the external shell, which is another reason that would prompt an implant exchange. This is usually due simply to "wear and tear" of the implant shell over time. When a saline implant leaks, the result is a deflated appearing breast, which requires an implant replacement to resume a normal appearance. Although physically harmless, the emotional aspects of a saline deflation are often worrisome to the patient. Silicone implant ruptures are less obvious physically, but should also be exchanged for optimal emotional and physical results.

Although an eventual breast implant exchange should be anticipated as a part of breast augmentation surgery, the amount of inconvenience is very small relative to the total time that the implants are in place. Sometimes the reason for an exchange is purely elective (as in the case of a size change), whereas other times the exchange is less optional (as in the case of a rupture). Regardless, the vast majority of women with breast implants are extremely pleased and feel that the need for an occasional implant exchange is a small price to pay for the overall benefits of their breast augmentation.
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