Revision breast surgery is a very broad term and covers a lot of breast surgery procedures. Most commonly, it relates to secondary or revision breast implant surgery but can be revisions of breast lifts (mastopexy), breast reductions, or breast reconstructions as well. Breast implant revision surgery is most common and is expected at some stage (hopefully after a long time) after breast augmentation surgery.
Breast revision surgery can be carried out for a number of reasons. It may be due to a problem with healing, infection, shape, symmetry, or scars after your first surgery. Or it may be due to a change or problem with your breast implant in the long-term such as the implant not sitting correctly (malposition), capsular contracture (build-up of thickened, tight scar tissue around the implant, implant rupture, implant discomfort, development of breast implant associated-anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) or breast implant associated-squamous cell carcinoma (BIA-SCC) (uncommon forms of cancer found in the capsules around breast implants), breast implant illness symptoms attributed to silicone implants. Breast implants are planned to last a long time after being placed but they are not life-long devices and usually need to be removed (with or without replacement) at some time in the future after breast augmentation. The average lifespan of a breast implant is 10 to 15 years. Some do not last quite so long, while others last many years longer without problems. Alternatively, the revision may be needed due to changes in your breast shape and size over time which can be due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, weight gain or loss and breast ageing or a problem with your breast shape, size or symmetry after mastopexy (breast lift) or breast reduction surgery.
A second surgery to symmetries breasts after reconstruction or to transfer more fat (lipoaugmentation) or in complex asymmetry or developmental shapes are not usually considered revisions as they can be predicted to be needed quite commonly in these procedures. In these cases, it is better to view the surgery as a second stage rather than a revision.
Revision breast surgery can vary from minor scar or shape adjustments to full reshaping and resizing of your breast. It will depend on the reasons behind the revision and your breast size, shape, and goals of surgery. If your revision involves breast augmentation using implants or fat, breast lift (mastopexy), or breast reduction, there will be additional information on other breast procedure pages on this site as well.
Light dressings and a support bra will be needed afterward. Support bras are usually advised to be worn between one and three months after surgery. You will also be advised on the care of your breast scars while they heal and fade. The exact aftercare instructions will depend on whether you had implant removal alone or combined with other breast procedures.
Ensure you consider all aspects of a procedure. You can speak to your surgeon about these areas of the surgery in more detail during a consultation.
0.5 to 4 hours depending on the planned procedure
May be general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia depending on the procedure planned
Day surgery unless combined with other procedures that require an overnight stay or a complex breast flap reconstruction
Risks can include early risks of surgery such as bleeding, infection, seroma (fluid build-up), wound healing problems, clots in your leg veins, and breast risks such as the altered sensation of the nipple (usually numbness but can be oversensitivity, usually temporary but can be permanent), asymmetry, recurrence of lax, sagging tissue, loss of tissue including the nipple and areola and poor scarring. If implants are placed, implant risks such as capsular contracture (tight scar tissue around the implant), implants not sitting in the correct position, implant rupture, development of breast implant associated-anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) or breast implant associated-squamous cell carcinoma (BIA-SCC) (uncommon forms of cancer found in the capsules around breast implants), breast implant illness symptoms are also considerations.
Risks can be reduced by having your surgery at a healthy and steady weight, planning your surgery in relation to pregnancies and your lifestyle, avoiding nicotine in the run-up to recovery from your surgery, optimizing any health conditions e.g. diabetes, and following your surgeon’s aftercare advice.
This will vary depending on the exact procedure undertaken. It may simply be a small area of your breasts that is tender and requiring a light dressing. But if a full breast revision, your breasts will be swollen, tight and tender particularly in the first two weeks, but usually up to six weeks. Your breast tissue will gradually soften as you heal and as the swelling goes down. Depending on the exact surgery, you may have to allow some time for the final shape and implant position to take place. You may have to adjust to a change in the shape or size of your breasts. You will need to wear a support bra and look after your scars as your surgeon advised. One to two weeks off work is usual. Return to exercise is after six to eight weeks.
Results are long-lasting but are affected by weight gain, weight loss, and hormonal changes such as pregnancy or breastfeeding. The average lifespan of a breast implant is 10 to 15 years so you will need to allow for future surgeries to change your implant if replaced. Breast ageing will continue as well. Mammograms and other breast scans can be performed once you have healed but you should notify the radiographer of your previous/current implants and surgery.