Not All Breast Explants Are Equal

Contemporary Strategies in Breast Explantation Surgery

Neil Tanna, M.D., M.B.A.; M. Bradley Calobrace, M.D.; Mark W. Clemens, M.D.; Dennis C. Hammond, M.D.; Maurice Y. Nahabedian, M.D.; Rod J. Rohrich, M.D.; Ben H. Zhang, B.A.; Dana Bregman, M.D.; Adam D. Perry, M.D.


Plast Reconstr Surg. 2021;147(4):808-818. 

In This Article


Summary: Breast implant removal and replacement has been a common secondary breast procedure in the long-term maintenance of breast augmentation, but more recently growing concerns about silicone-related systemic illness, breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), and changing perceptions of aesthetic beauty have seen breast implant removal without replacement become increasingly requested by patients. Explantation can be challenging, especially when performed with a total capsulectomy. Currently, there is no evidence regarding whether a partial or total capsulectomy has any effect on BIA-ALCL risk mitigation in patients that have textured implants without disease. Total capsulectomy with incomplete resection of a mass can contribute to hyperprogression of BIA-ALCL and death. There have also been cases of BIA-ALCL diagnosed years after removal of the textured device and "total capsulectomy." Therefore, the common practice of simple prophylactic capsulectomy in a textured implant to mitigate future disease has not been established and at the current time should be discouraged. In addition, aesthetic outcomes can be quite variable, and patients should have appropriate preoperative counseling regarding the indications and contraindications for explantation, associated risks, financial implications, and postoperative appearance. The authors review salient aspects related to the planning and management of breast implant removal.