Common Reasons for Breast Revision Surgery


A busy woman's chest in a black bra with a necklace

Breast revision surgery is a general term used to describe secondary surgical procedures that are performed on women who have previously undergone either a breast augmentation, a mastopexy, breast reduction, or breast reconstruction. The reasons can be cosmetic or reconstructive in nature as well as “elective” or “urgent.”

The following are some of the most common issues why women undergo breast revision surgery after having had a breast augmentation previously:

Desiring a Larger Size

Desiring a substantially larger breast size and selecting bigger breast implants is an extremely common reason why women undergo breast revision surgery. Of course, this is no surprise to most. It is also nice to know that the initial postoperative discomfort after this implant exchange is usually little to inconsequential.

To help minimize the risk of early dissatisfaction with their implant and, therefore, breast size and to avoid early breast revision surgery, I thoroughly seek exactly what my patients are desiring in terms of cup size, proportionality, etc. They also “try on” implants and even evaluate photos for likes and dislikes. Imaging may be helpful but is not perfectly predictive of their ultimate result.

Capsular Contracture

After breast augmentation, a pocket or “capsule,” of tissue forms around the implant as the body’s natural response to a foreign object. Capsular contracture occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the implant, squeezing and deforming it, resulting in the breast feeling hard and appearing misshapen. A certain percentage of women with this issue will benefit from surgical removal of the capsule (capsulectomy) and placement of a new breast implant (implant exchange) in order to correct this condition.

Implant Leak or Rupture

Although there is no designated time period that breast implants will last, they are not considered lifetime devices and either need to be replaced or removed in the case of leak or rupture. An implant leak or rupture occurs when the outer shell of the implant wears down, tears, or breaks. Saline implant ruptures are generally noticeable immediately because the saline solution which leaks out of the implant is rapidly (and safely) absorbed by the body, resulting in a decrease in breast size. On the other hand, silicone implant ruptures are quite often not apparent as there is no change in volume, and there may be absolutely no change in shape. If there is a suspicion of a rupture, a radiological evaluation such as with an MRI is required in order to detect whether one has occurred. Implant rupture can be addressed by removing the damaged implant and replacing it with a new one.

Implant Malposition

Sometimes one implant is placed at a different level on the chest than the other, resulting in noticeable asymmetry of the breasts and their fullness. This can also be a result of pre-existing asymmetry of the breast position where one is higher developmentally than the other. It can also develop well after the surgery as a result of trauma or other issues. Finally, both implants could have been placed aesthetically either too high, too low, or a combination of both.

Depending on the exact underlying issue, treatment consists of the appropriate repositioning of one or both implants and repair of any disrupted structures.

For more information on breast augmentation or breast revision surgery, please call Dr. Steven H. Turkeltaub’s office at 480-451-3000 or fill out our online contact form today. Dr. Turkeltaub is board certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and is also a member of several plastic surgery organizations dedicated to providing patients with safe and effective plastic surgery procedures.