Why Has Breast Implant Removal Decreased Since 2000?

3 min read

The first breast implant procedure was done in 1962 to a woman named Timmie Jean Lindsey; a few decades later, the procedure had become popular among women who were willing to take to the operating table for a bigger bust.  

When breast augmentation first became commonplace, women were opting for the largest implants they could squeeze into their skin, often against the advice of their surgeons who suggested smaller increases to create a balanced physique.

A woman holds up a silicone implant that will subtly increase the size of her breasts during her augmentation.

This would ultimately lead to thousands of breast implant removal procedures in the following years. 

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 40,787 breast implant removals performed in 2000. 

Over the next 18 years, that number dropped by the thousands to 29,236 in 2018.

What Caused the Decrease in Implant Removals?

In the last generation or so, there has been a trend among breast augmentation patients to opt for more subtle increases in breast size rather than going for the most extreme options. 

In the last generation, there has been a trend to opt for more subtle increases in breast size, leading to fewer future implant removals. 

Patients are finally listening to the advice of their surgeons and choosing a balanced appearance that they are less likely to change their minds about in five or 10 years.

Surgical Technology and Experience

Another contributing factor to the decline of breast implant removals is the technology and amount of experience available in today’s marketplace versus the 1980s or 1990s when breast augmentation became familiar. 

Surgeons have now had more than 50 years to perfect cosmetic procedures like breast augmentation.

Improved Implant Options

The technology behind the implants themselves has also improved dramatically. In 2018, 88 percent of patients who underwent breast augmentation surgery opted for silicone implants over saline implants because the silicone versions are less prone to rupture and rippling. 

Gummy bear implants, which mimic the natural shape of the breast, have helped to increase the long-term satisfaction of breast augmentation since they provide a more natural appearance and feel.

Are Breast Augmentations Still Popular?

The number of breast augmentation procedures undergone in the U.S. has increased from 296,000 in 2010 to 313,735 in 2018. Despite slight downward fluctuations between some years, this procedure has seen an overall increase over the last decade and remains, year after year, the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the country. 

An infographic depicting the number of breast augmentations over the last eight years.

If this shows us anything, it is that the ability to achieve a full, balanced figure is more attainable now than ever before. And, considering the number of breast implant removals has decreased while augmentations have increased, the likelihood that you will have results that you are happy with 10, 15, 20, or even 40 years from now are the best they have ever been. 

Results similar to this before and after comparison can be achieved through breast augmentation.

Of course, that is only if you have your breast augmentation performed by an experienced plastic surgeon like Dr. Mesbahi who is qualified to provide that caliber of results. 

If you would like to get more information about breast augmentation, or if you are ready to schedule a consultation, call Dr. Mesbahi’s office at (703) 287-8277.

The majority of breast augmentation patients remain pleased with their implants for the duration of the implants’ lifespan (traditionally 10 to 15 years). Unfortunately, for some patients, complications can occur that may require breast implant removal or revision surgery.

silicone breast implant

1. Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is a common reason for breast implant removal. Whenever a foreign object is placed into the body, scar tissue forms around that object. Traditionally, this scar tissue stays where it develops and creates no problem. Unfortunately, in some situations, the scar tissue contracts around the implant and squeezes it. This not only causes the implant to change shape and create unusual bulging, but it can also be quite painful. You will know if your implants have experienced capsular contracture. When this condition occurs, your surgeon must remove both the implant and the surrounding scar tissue that is causing the problem. Once everything is removed, a new implant can be placed, and you will be on your way.

2. Implant Rupture

Implant rupture can occur with both saline and silicone implants. While the silicone shells of both types of implants are durable and can withstand a considerable amount of pressure, they’re not foolproof. Ruptures of saline implants are noticeable immediately, as you will see a distinct deflation of your breast. Ruptures of silicone implants are much more difficult to diagnose without an MRI. The silicone gel often stays in place for a while after a rupture, so it’s not immediately noticeable. To treat a ruptured implant, your surgeon must remove the original implant (as well as any escaped silicone gel) and insert a new one.

3. Implant Malposition

A pocket must be formed in the breast to insert a breast implant, either above or below the chest muscle. If this pocket is made too large, there may be a risk of implant malposition. This occurs when the implant can move around in the pocket, therefore changing the shape and appearance of the breasts. If this happens, the implant must be removed, and the pocket must be reshaped so that there will be no additional movement.

4. Double Bubble Deformity

While a double bubble deformity is rare, it is still a risk associated with breast implants. Double bubble breast deformity occurs when the implant falls below the inframammary crease (the crease where the breasts meet the chest wall) and creates a ripple effect or the appearance of a “double breast.” A double bubble deformity may be more likely for patients who choose larger implants.

5. To Change the Size

The most common reason women choose to remove their implants is because they are unhappy with their current size. Before the initial operation, women are faced with a difficult decision: having to choose which implant size they believe will meet their aesthetic desires. This is not always a simple decision. Women who undergo breast augmentation want larger breasts, though they may not know how much larger. For some women, their initial choice was too conservative, and they wish for larger implants. For others, the implants were overly large and too cumbersome for their day-to-day lives. If patients decide down the line that the implant size they chose isn’t actually the best size for them, implant revision can change out the old implants for a new size.

If you are noticing unexplainable changes to your implants or are considering changing the size of your implants, contact Dr. Alex Mesbahi today by calling 703-287-8277 to set up a consultation.