Having breast implants removed is a significant choice and is done for many reasons, such as wanting to return to a conventional breast size or due to breast implant illness. To best understand why people choose to have their breast implants removed, we spoke to Katie.
In this patient story, Katie shares her breast implant removal (explant) journey, including: why she decided on breast implant removal without replacement, her concerns about her chest appearing flat after breast implant removal, what the best bra for her implant removal was, how her explant surgery went and what her recovery time and experience was.
Katie explains, in her own words, her experience with breast implants, the surgical side with breast augmentation and removal, and recovery from her plastic surgery procedures.
Age: 32 (30 at time of explant op and 18 for original breast augmentation)
Weight: 55 kg
Procedure: Breast implant removal without replacement
Pre-op bra size: 32D
Post-op bra size: 32B
I enjoyed having my breast implants and thought when the time came I’d have them replaced.
However, after having my breast implants for 10 years I started to have capsular contracture in the left breast and I also found out that they were PIPs.
I practised a lot of yoga and didn’t like it when I lay down on my front and the breast implants felt like they were in the way and uncomfortable. Since having my implants at 18, I also felt much more confident in myself and reached a point of acceptance about the way I looked and life in general.
I yearned to just be natural again. So I made the scary decision to have a breast explant without replacement.
Although I had conviction with my decision it was at times absolutely terrifying. I lose count of the times I almost backed out but I went through with it. The healing process was difficult but 18 months later I have no regrets whatsoever and I am so glad I did not get more implants put in.
I hope that my unbiased, honest account of my experience might help other women considering this huge change and give you the confidence to make the best decision for you. I have looked back on my own personal diary for this information so you get a true idea of how I felt at the time!
Many times I had been tempted to back out, but today I was fully ready to cancel and looked into whether this would be possible.
As I was having the procedure done on the NHS, and felt so grateful, I felt I couldn’t back out now and waste their time. I was panicking. I told myself that if the result was horrendous and I looked deformed, I could always pay for further surgery to correct them.
I started to pack my bag for the morning. I started with my macom compression bra - I’d looked into various brands and felt reassured that macom® was the best after speaking to their wonderful staff.
The compression vest was actually more like a corset but softer and fastened at the front with three sizes so you can make it tighter or looser.
macom® were great and I am still so very grateful for Nadja’s advice. She was beyond helpful and was incredibly knowledgeable and sympathetic about my situation – the team genuinely wanted to provide the very best product to ensure I got optimal results and healed well.
In addition to my macom® vest, I packed an overnight bag in case I needed to stay. Although I was supposed to be out the same day if there were no complications, who knows what might happen.
In bed that night I felt truly overwhelmed and burst into tears, wondering why I ever had the procedure in the first place. I worried about the effect of the PIP implants in my body too – I’d been so tired for the past year and had numerous health problems. I felt silly being in this situation when members of my family have had serious operations and just got on with it and my op was fairly minor and I was an emotional wreck! Thankfully, my boyfriend was really supportive but I certainly put him through his paces with my worrying and obsessing about the operation.
I slept really badly, running through every eventuality in my mind so only ended up having a few hours pre-op sleep.
The morning was all a blur and I was tired but no longer panicking. I wanted to get it over with and just deal with the results and my new body. Before I knew it I was coming round from the anaesthetic and extremely woozy and no pain at all. I was super disorientated, but looked down and remembered… I now had no boobs!
As soon as I could, I peeked into the gown, preparing for the worst. It was a shock to see my tiny boobs, puckered, droopy and sad looking but not as bad as I’d expected. After dozing and the painkillers had worn off, I started to feel some pain on the left side when I tried to sit up so the nurse gave me some codeine. Within an hour or so I was up and about, and went to the bathroom to take a full look.
My left boob was bruised underneath around the incision area and I felt some shooting pain down one side and the right was much better.
Initially, I didn't think I could wear my macom® vest as I was sore but my boyfriend helped me put it on and I actually felt much better and more supported with it on. It held me in gently but firmly, and I felt that my saggy skin was being helped to snap back into place. It didn’t cause any additional pain as I thought it would, it fit perfectly. It did make me look totally flat though, which worried me initially, but I expected this thanks to the advice from macom®.
Overall, despite the obvious initial shock, I loved how soft they were. After 12 years I couldn’t remember what it felt like not to have implants and it was lovely to give my boyfriend a hug without the hard contracted implants between us.
I stayed in the hospital longer than I would have due to the pain on my left side, but after eating some food was allowed to go home.
Very tired but much less pain – only in the left side and the sutures were off by the end of the day!
Mainly slept on the sofa, ate grapes and watched bad daytime TV!
I was so self-conscious about my completely flat chest with the compression vest but they were so lovely. Having some compression is important but I’ve had to resist the urge to just go out and buy a thick padded bra!
Still getting a bit of pain on the left side, annoying!
On day five I started to notice a difference in the way the right and left boob were healing. No pain in the right, but still some considerable pain in the left – which also seemed slightly smaller than the right.
I’ve noticed I feel increasingly tired and weary which made me feel quite low in mood.
The macom® vest has been amazing, I’m really glad I invested in a high-quality garment. It was on the more expensive side but is really good quality and a perfect fit. I miss it when it comes off and feel so much better, comfortable and supported with it on – the three size options meant I was able to loosen it if I felt sore.
Well, both breasts have healed and the infection quickly cleared up. The left breast with the infection (which was also the one with capsular contracture) is slightly smaller than the right. At first, it freaked me out but I don’t think it’s that noticeable – especially when wearing a bra and over clothes.
I can’t quite explain it but I feel a real sense of freedom in being all-natural on my chest again. I think knowing my implants were PIP and that there was non-medical grade silicone inside me, I just wanted them out for good even though I knew the replacement would be safe.
I've fluffed so much just in two months and filled out a lot of the space which I'm sure will only improve.
Another thing that did concern me was the texture and bumps of the breast tissue but the doctor advised it's just all moulding back together now and this is just regular breast tissue.
I love wearing little dainty bras too – I feel so pretty and younger – it’s like I’ve gone back to being 18 again!
It’s now a year and a half post-op and I do not regret my decision to explant. I have even more body confidence than I did with the implants!
I wear bikinis and feel free of worry about what people think, I’ve stood up and taught yoga classes without the need for a padded bra, I’ve worn beautiful sequined backless dresses with no bra and felt like a million dollars.
My boobs have sprung back to being nice and perky and while there’s a slight asymmetry between the two, it’s nothing major. I definitely think that the macom® vest helped with this.
My advice to anyone considering explant with no replacement is that the pre-nerves and worry are much worse than the actual procedure. Get a good compression garment, stand by your decision, have faith, and remember – that first glance is likely to be unpleasant, but you’ve got a lot of healing to do.
Above all, whatever your decision, love your beautiful body! Implants in or implants out, we are all unique and special – that’s definitely the lesson I took from this whole experience.
If anyone has any questions about my procedure, please contact macom® and I will be happy to answer them.
These photos offer a glimpse of how your chest can appear after having breast implants removed. Changes in the breast tissue and scar tissue surrounding your implants will vary. Explant patients who have had larger implants should be aware that size changes may be more significant, and that sagging or excess skin is to be expected – but can be remedied with a breast lift in many cases.
Photos were authorised by the patient to be used on macom® website. They should not be used without the consent of macom® and the patient.
macom® medical is a proudly British company and the UK’s leading distributor of medical grade compression garments and shapewear. We have many garments that can be used to support recovery following breast implant removal surgery.