Breast implants do not last forever. In fact, the average life of a breast implant is anywhere from 10 to 20 years. This means that depending on how old you were when you first underwent surgery, you will almost certainly need to have yours replaced at least once during your lifetime. If you have had saline breast implants, your surgeon may recommend that you have a procedure known as needle deflation.
Signs that your saline breast implants may require removal and/or replacement:
Capsular contracture. This refers to the hardening of the scar tissue around the breast implants which can cause tightness, pain, and changes to the appearance of the breasts.
Rupture/leakage. Occasionally implants may develop a hole or tear, and this can cause the saline solution to leak out of the implant. This can happen gradually and slowly, making it harder to notice, or very quickly. Saline can be safely absorbed by the body, but the size and shape of the affected breast will noticeably change.
Rippling. Sometimes implants can develop wrinkles or ripples. If this happens, it may be possible for you to see them this defect through the skin as well as feeling it when you touch your breasts.
Position change. Unfortunately, breast implants don’t prevent your breasts from dropping and sagging as you get older. This is because age-related changes to the skin cause thinning and loss of elasticity, and combined with the effects of gravity, it causes the breast position to drop significantly. Some patients who have previously had breast implants choose to undergo further surgery to improve their position and have their implants replaced at the same time.
What is needle deflation?
Needle deflation is a technique that is used to deflate saline breast implants, removing all of the saline solutions from inside them and leaving an empty shell. Needle deflation is typically carried out before a patient has their saline breast implants permanently removed or replaced. It has the added benefit of being able to show the patient how their breasts will look if they choose to have their implants permanently removed.
What happens in a needle deflation procedure?
Needle deflation is usually carried out using a local anesthetic to ensure that the patient doesn’t experience any discomfort at any point during the procedure. Once you are suitably anesthetized, a needle syringe will be used to remove the saline from the breasts so that they deflate.
Once the implants have been deflated, what will happen next will depend on what you have decided to do regarding your implants. You may have the deflated implants removed – something which requires only small incisions to be made in the fold under the breasts. If you no longer wish to have breast implants, it is important to still have the delated implants removed as you may be able to see and feel them under the breasts.
If you are having your implants replaced, the new saline implant will be able to be inserted through the same incision and will then be filled to the desired size.
Recovering from a needle deflation procedure
Precisely how quickly it will take you to recover from a needle deflation procedure will depend on whether you have had them replaced or simply removed. Removal is very simple, and aside from some slightly sore incisions once they are closed, you should feel back to normal fairly quickly. However, if you have had your implants replaced, the after-effects of the procedure will be similar to those which you experienced after your initial augmentation surgery. This means you can expect some soreness and swelling, and even some bruising. Your surgeon will remind you how to take care of your new breasts during the recovery period, but you should expect it to take several weeks or more before you are able to participate in all of your usual daily activities.
For more information about needle deflation of saline breast implants, please don’t hesitate to speak to our cosmetic surgery team.