Common Reasons to Exchange Implants

  • Leaking or ruptured silicone or saline implants
  • New product options with less leak-prone implants
  • Desire for a different size, which may be due to weight changes or different needs
  • Scar tissue
  • Problems with the original surgery
  • Better shape with a new implant
  • Change implant position
  • Switch from saline to silicone (or vice verca)
  • Asymmetry

Changes in Breast Implant Position

Sometimes, implants are placed too widely across the woman’s chest. This can cause the breasts to point outward, drop out of place, or slide into a position that is not natural.

In this case, the position of the implants addressed by modifying the pocket in the breast tissue where the implants rest on the chest wall.

Changes in Breast Implant Size

How breast implant size is changed depends on the type of implant. Silicone gel implants must be completely removed surgically and changed to a new implant. Saline implants are easier, as the amount of sterile solution may be changed through a small incision. If the patient wants larger saline implants but the size of the saline shell is too small to accommodate more solution, a new implant must be placed.

Change in Breast Implant Type

Sometimes patients decide to change from a saline to silicone implant, or vice versa. This may be done for many reasons. Some patients decide to switch to saline implants due to visible rippling on the sides of the breast from existing saline implants, for example.

Fixing Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is a complication of breast implant surgery that causes hard scar tissue to form around the implant. This scar tissue squeezes the implant and may make the breast feel firm or hard.

It can also affect the shape, position and appearance of the implants. Patients who have severe capsular contracture must have the scar tissue removed with a capsulectomy. In less severe cases, the scar tissue can be surgically released with an incision to free the implants to their normal position for a more natural appearance and feeling.

Changes in Breast Implant Placement

Breast implants may be placed above or below the pectoral muscle. Dr. Shapiro typically prefers placing implants below the muscle, as this produces a more natural feeling and appearance by giving the implant the additional “padding” of more tissue to hide the implant shape. It also reduces the risk of complications like capsular contracture.

Dr. Shapiro can move the implant position from above the muscle to below the muscle or vice versa.

Implant Exchange Recovery

Healing after this procedure is generally easier than the first procedure with very minimal downtime. Most patients experience only minor swelling and bruising that dissipates on its own within one to two weeks. Because the space already exists for the breast implants, muscles do not need to be cut or stretched, except when the implant position is changed from above to below the muscle. In this case, the recovery period may be longer than the first procedure.

This procedure may be straightforward or complex, depending on the reasons for the surgery. Sometimes exchanging the implants is a complex procedure, such as when there is extensive scar tissue or several problems from the first procedure. The more work that is performed, the longer the recovery.

Are You a Candidate?

Women in good physical health who want to correct problems from a previous augmentation surgery or change the appearance of their breast implants may be a good candidate for this surgery.

There are a few cases in which implant exchange is not possible. This includes if there is reduced blood flow or a current infection.


Meet Dr. Daniel Shapiro

A world-class plastic surgeon in a league of his own.

Dr. Shapiro is an award-winning, board-certified plastic surgeon with over 26 years of experience in his field. With impressive technical skill and a talent for creating natural-looking results, his practice has become a leading destination for discerning patients throughout the country.

Known for his compassion and honesty, Dr. Shapiro strives to educate his patients so that they are empowered about their care. He carefully explains the procedures, expected results, and techniques in a way that anyone can understand. Additionally, he personally guides his clients every step of the way – from the initial consultation to their post-operative care – to ensure an enjoyable experience and the best possible results.