If you’re just looking into explant surgery and are completely overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone. It took many sleepless nights alone with Dr. Google before I scheduled a consultation with a plastic surgeon. How much is explant surgery? Do I need a capsulectomy? What will my boobs look like after my implants are removed?
Explant Surgery – My Journey
When I got my implants removed, I’d already had them for over 11 and a half years.
If you’d have asked me just 6 months before the surgery, I would have told you that I’d never NOT have implants.
I loved the way my implants looked, I never had any pain or problems with them, and they were still very soft and natural-feeling.
Nothing at all like the breast implant illness stories I read online.
Still, as I navigate my way down a healthier road now that I’m entering my mid-thirties, something about having silicone implants continuously nagged at me.
Were the implants the reason I had constant headaches?
Were they the reason I couldn’t focus or why I had constant brain fog?
Maybe they were the reason I was always tired and had zero energy from the time I woke up.
OR maybe just maybe my implants weren’t to blame for any of it and the real cause of my issues was the fact that I had four kids in four years.
When I first started researching having my implants removed, I found dozens of stories online from women that had a capsulectomy and those that decided to leave the capsules in.
If you believe you’re suffering from symptoms of Breast Implant Illness or BII, you’ll almost definitely want to have your capsules removed.
The capsules are just the scar tissue that your body forms around your implants as a sort of defense mechanism against a foreign object it doesn’t recognize.
Lots of surgeons feel that if your implants are completely intact (meaning they aren’t leaking or ruptured), the risk of removing the capsules is greater than any benefit.
Survivors of BII will tell you that they believe that tissue, whether you had a rupture or not, has silicone in it and should be completely removed.
My surgeon told me he did his best to remove all of my capsule and he estimated he got 90% of it.
He said there were some areas where the capsule was as thin as tissue paper and would have been too risky to remove.
I’ve learned to make peace with this.
Of course my preference would have been to wake up and find out that all of the capsule was removed, but my implants are out and that’s huge.
Breast Implant Illness Symptoms
A quick google search will tell you all that you need to know about the dozens of symptoms that are attributed to implants.
I felt like they contributed to my migraines, brain fog, and lethargy.
Other women have far worse symptoms that they wholeheartedly believe are due to their implants.
I’ve seen women losing their hair, women that had painful rashes, little to no libido, hormonal imbalances, depression, chronic fatigue, numbness…the list goes on.
My surgeon said he has explanted other women and they claim to feel better almost immediately after the surgery.
He also said he thinks some of that could be similar to placebo effect.
You truly believe your implants are making you sick so when they’re removed, you’re cured of some or all of your symptoms.
I told him I don’t care why it works, I just care THAT it works.
To me, it’s a no brainer that implants start to break down and become toxic for our bodies.
Why I Decided to Explant without Lift
During my consultation appointment, my surgeon told me he didn’t feel I’d need a lift.
This shocked me because I’ve nursed four babies.
Obviously I wish my boobs were all the way up to my chin, but I ultimately decided not to waste money on the lift.
It was significantly more money. I’m pretty sure it would have added almost $3000 to my bill.
Plus, my husband and I were going back and forth about having another baby.
I figured it would make more sense to have a lift after we were 100% sure we were done having babies and I was done breastfeeding.
Why pay all of that money for pretty boobs just to turn them into empty tube socks again in a few years? 🙂
So far, I don’t regret this decision.
What to Expect After Breast Implant Removal
When I woke up from my surgery, I was just extremely tired and trying to stay awake so I could go home.
When I met with my surgeon right before my surgery, he said there was a 90% chance I’d wake up with drains.
Sure enough, when I woke up, I had drains on both sides and was wrapped up like a boobless burrito.
For the next few days, I laid in bed and watched romantic comedies while my husband helped me get to the bathroom every few hours and kept our kids busy in the other room.
Somehow, even when you’re fresh out of surgery and have bodily fluid draining from fresh incisions, my children were still incapable of asking their dad for anything.
Strange how that works.
Explant Surgery Recovery Time
At first, I wasn’t able to lift anything over 5 pounds or raise my arms.
I used an age bandage and grew to absolutely hate that thing, but I felt so much better with it on.
It was just a hassle keeping it in place when it wanted to move around.
If I could do it again, I’d buy a bunch of compression bras and burn that damn ace bandage.
My husband ended up going to the store and buying a way-too-small-for-me sports bra that he had to get me into.
It worked way better than that stupid ace bandage that just wouldn’t stay in place.
Honestly, by my one month appointment I felt 100% back to normal.
My surgeon gave me the go-ahead to pick up my kids again.
He told me if I exercise, to start slow and work back up to 100% over the course of the next month.
I informed him he has nothing to worry about because the only way I’m running anywhere is if someone is chasing me.
The recovery was harder than I expected but still not very hard at all.
How Painful is Breast Explant Surgery
For me, I found explant to be far more painful than the implant surgery was.
That was probably my biggest shock from the whole experience.
When I had my implants put in 11 years ago, I had almost zero support and was in a really crappy relationship.
Cut to 11 years later getting my explant surgery –
My husband is amazing and wanted to help any way he could.
My kids wanted to bring me food and drinks and keep me company.
I couldn’t have asked for more support, but the surgery was way harder to recover from.
When I say harder, I definitely don’t mean hard.
I mean it was a struggle to get up by myself to go to the bathroom for a few days.
I had a prescription for pain medication and never needed it.
Tylenol was enough to take the edge off of the discomfort and allowed me to get enough sleep at night.
I had drains after my explant surgery and had to drain them 3 or 4 times a day.
This was by far and away the hardest part of the whole recovery.
Skim over this next part if you get queasy easily…
Let’s get technical shall we? Please prepare to be amazed by my medical terminology…
When you drain your drains, you have to “milk” (barf, I know) the tube into the grenade-looking thingy and then dump everything into a measuring cup.
Before you close the drain (boob grenade), you squeeze it so that it creates a suction that continuously pulls fluid from your drain site.
The feeling of suction inside my incisions was like a firm cramp.
The first time I did it, my husband had to help me sit on the toilet because I almost passed out.
I’m not squeamish, so this was a surprise to both of us.
It was just the crampy, pinchy feeling that really got to me.
A nurse removed my drains at my first post-op appointment on Monday. I had my surgery the prior Friday – so a total of 4 days with drains.
While it burned slightly, the removal wasn’t too bad.
A small price to pay to be rid of those toxic bags after all these years.
When Can You Shower After Explant
My surgeon and the nurses I talked to during recovery told me that I couldn’t shower until after my first follow up appointment about 4 days after my explant surgery.
By the second day after my surgery, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I had my husband help me rinse off and to wash my hair in the sink because I just couldn’t take feeling so gross.
My pre-op instructions said to wash with antibacterial soap everywhere, even my hair, the night or morning before surgery.
The soap left my hair clumped together and dirty looking.
After a couple of days, I just desperately wanted to feel clean again.
I’m confident I accomplished that without breaking too many rules, thanks to my husband’s help.
My Advice to Anyone Considering Explant
My best advice is to join some explant Facebook support groups in your area.
They’re great with surgeon recommendations, post-op advice (like which bra they loved, etc.) and what to expect.
Also, meet with multiple surgeons and see who feels like a better fit.
I only met with two surgeons in my area, but I loved the environment of the office I went with – Dr. Kreithen in Sarasota, FL.
The office feels more like a boutique than a doctor’s office. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful throughout the entire process.
I emailed and texted with their staff and was truly confident by the time I showed up for my surgery.
When I was about to go into surgery, I had zero reservations that I was doing the right thing.
Of course, going under general anesthesia is always stressful, but explant was absolutely the right thing for me to do.
My surgeon put up with my giddiness and multiple questions. He patiently explained the capsule issue to me and drew me a little diagram. I just felt well cared for there.
If you’re in southwest Florida, at least consider a consult at Holcolm Kreithen Plastic Surgery and Medspa.
If you’re not, go into those Facebook groups and ask other women who they loved and who they didn’t.
Choosing to explant is such a personal decision and you want to have confidence in the surgeon you pick.
Also – decide if you want your implants after the surgery.
This is seriously my one regret from my explant – that I wasn’t very upfront about wanting to keep my implants.
I know it’s probably so weird, but everyone in the Youtube videos I watched prepping for this surgery had their implants after and I wish I did too.
I mean, I paid for the damn things, shouldn’t I get to keep them?
After my surgery, the nurse in recovery said “oh no, they’re already in the read bag” and moved on.
If I weren’t so high on pain meds when I woke up, I would have demanded to keep them, but this is also something I can make peace with 🙂
What Will My Breasts Look Like After Explant Surgery
I’m still debating my comfort level about sharing my before and after pictures here.
What I can tell you is that I’ve been pleasantly surprised how “normal” my boobs look after explant without a lift and AFTER breastfeeding 4 babies.
Honestly though, aesthetics was the least of my concerns when I chose to have my implants removed.
I just wanted to be done with foreign objects in my body and having this low level worry in the back of my mind that they might not be great for me.
Say what you want, but you can’t tell me that silicone in your body stays completely intact for decades without starting to break down.
Overall, I’m happy with my explanted boobies. Most before and afters I saw online were of A or AA cup women, but I’m a solid B now. I was a D while my implants were in.
My husband claims to absolutely love my new boobs and always makes me feel sexy.
Whether he’s lying or not, we’ll never know.
I feel healthier. I don’t feel like I have to be careful not to pop an implant or something.
My boobs feel like mine and I don’t have to worry about maintenance surgery in the future to replace aging implants that may or may not be making me sick.
To me, that makes every bit of the planning, cost, and recovery 100% worth it.