What is Breast Implant Illness & Removal?

Breast implant illness involves an array of symptoms that can develop following breast augmentation with implants. Many women describe joint and muscle pain, memory and concentration issues, chronic fatigue, trouble sleeping, headaches, depression, GI problems, rashes, skin problems, and more.

At Charlottesville Plastic Surgery, we take all concerns regarding breast implant illness very seriously and are willing to listen to our patients’ concerns regarding their implants. Whether you are considering breast implant removal because of breast implant illness, or simply because you no longer wish to have breast implants, Dr. Willis offers en-bloc implant removal at the time of surgery and subsequent breast lift (mastopexy) at the same surgery, if you desire.

Breast implant removal can be used to improve the following:

  • Breast pain
  • Fatigue, anxiety, and brain fog
  • Capsular contracture
  • Implant leaks


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Dr. Willis and his team are phenomenal! From their patient-centered care to their willingness to collaborate with other physicians my experience was a resounding success. I highly recommend having a conversation with them.

Dr. Willis and his staff were amazing! Very calm, clean and professional atmosphere. They were inviting and attentive. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I went in for a consultation and had my lip filler procedure in the same day. Quick and painless. The results are perfect. I highly recommend Dr.Willis and taking advantage of the referral program. 10/10!

My experience with Dr. Willis was amazing and I highly recommend him if you’re looking for a skilled plastic surgeon and beautiful results! His technique is flawless and my results are incredible! I feel so beautiful, confident, and comfortable in my own skin. Do yourself a favor and book a consultation with Dr.Willis!

Nothing but praise for Charlottesville Plastic Surgery. Dr. Willis explained everything he needed to do clearly and his work was top-notch. When needed he made an immediate referral for me and explained exactly what I would expect from that. Great communication, efficient office.

Who is a Candidate?

Individuals who have undergone breast implant placement and are experiencing the symptoms of breast implant illness or simply no longer wish to have breast implants can often benefit from breast implant removal surgery. Ideal candidates will be otherwise healthy, nonsmokers who are at a stable weight. To speak with Dr. Willis about your breast implant removal goals, contact us today to schedule a consultation appointment.

The Breast Implant Removal Procedure

Breast implant removal can be performed under IV sedation or general anesthesia. During surgery, Dr. Willis will create an incision around your areola or under the breast fold. He will then remove the breast implants as well as any scar tissue. If you choose to have a breast lift along with your implant removal procedure, he will then take the necessary surgical steps to lift the breasts to a perkier position and remove excess tissue. Stitches, surgical tape, and skin adhesives are used to close the incisions.


Following surgery, you will have gauze dressings or bandages placed on your incisions and drains may be temporarily placed to collect any excess fluid. You may also be given a surgical bra to minimize swelling while you heal. Dr. Willis will give you specific instructions on how to care for your incisions, what medications to take, any activity restrictions, and when to schedule a follow-up appointment.

Your breasts will take on a new shape and profile which may take a while to get used to following breast implant removal. However, with time swelling will reduce and you will be able to enjoy life implant-free.

Contact Us Today

If you would like to learn more about breast implant illness or breast implant removal, contact Charlottesville Plastic Surgery in Charlottesville, VA today to schedule your consultation appointment. Dr. Willis will speak with you regarding the appropriate treatment options to help you look and feel your best.

Meet Dr. Willis

With an eye for finding the unique beauty in each individual, Dr. Willis incorporates the most modern techniques with a conservative touch, and strives to build lasting relationships with every patient.


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Can breast implants cause autoimmune disease?

As of now, there are no direct links of implants causing autoimmune disease. There are currently ongoing studies to further evaluate.

Can breast implants cause cellulitis?

Implants, if not infected, should not cause cellulitis.

Can breast implants cause pain years later?

If your breast implants are causing pain years later, you should consult your plastic surgeon. Although rare, it could be a sign that you have ruptured implants.

Can breast implants get infected years later?

It is extremely rare for your implants to get infected years later, as they are encapsulated by the body in a sterile pocket.

Do breast implants cause health problems?

Breast implants should not cause health problems. There have been no confirmed links from breast implants to health problems, but there is a phenomenon called Breast Implant Illness (BII). There are ongoing studies looking at the longterm safety profile of implants and their shells.

Do breast implants sag over time?

Breast implants may sag over time as your breast continue to age.

How common is capsular contracture in breast implants?

Capsular contrature is rare in the cosmetic breast implant. Reconstructive breast implants do carry a higher risk of capsular contracture.

How do I prepare for breast implant removal?

You do not need to do anything special prior to having your implants removed. Consult with your plastic surgeon to see if you need to stop any medications prior to your surgery.

Can breast implants last a lifetime?

Implant manufactures recommend replacement every 10-12 years, although we have commonly seen implants that are 30+ years old without issues.

Can saline implants cause autoimmune problems?

There have been no scientific links between saline implants and autoimmune diseases.

Can you die from breast implants?

The risk of death from breast implants is exceedingly rare.

Can you get your breast implants removed?

You can always have your breast implants removed. Consult with your plastic surgeon as to what to expect cosmetically after implant removal. You may discuss options including a lift procedure when you have your implants removed.

How do you know if my implants are leaking?

If you have saline implants, the leak will be much more noticeable as one breast will be smaller than the other. If you have silicone implants, then the leak may be undetected. Capsular contracture, pain, etc. may all be signs of a silicone leak.

How is BIA ALCL diagnosed?

BIA ALCL is diagnosed by sending off the fluid that surrounds the implant to cytology to look for cell surface markers of a lymphoma. This can be done through an image guided needle aspiration prior to surgery.

How much does it cost to have breast implants removed?

Breast implant removal may range from a simple explant of the implant, to removing the entire capsule with the implant, to performing a lift procedure of the breast. The cost will be determined by the degree of procedures performed and time.

What breast implants are linked to lymphoma?

Textured surfaced implants have been linked to lymphoma.

What is implant bottoming?

Bottoming out of implants is apparent when the majority of the implant is sitting low on the chest wall and/or below the nipple.

What percentage of breast implants rupture?

Breast implants carry a 1% rupture rate a year.

When should you have breast implants replaced?

Breast implants should be replaced if one or both have ruptured or if you’re struggling with capsular contracture. They can also be replaced if you want to change from saline to silicone. The manufactures recommend replacing silicone implants every 10 to15 years.

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