As the au naturel look gains popularity, more women are speaking out about their so-called ‘un-boob jobs’ and the reasons for having their once-loved big breasts surgically reduced.
In 2017, around 1.5 million women worldwide had breast implants inserted, and around 150,000 women had their implants removed.
Victoria Beckham is one celebrity who has admitted to having a breast explant, a surgical procedure used to remove implants.
In 2017, the Spice Girl turned designer penned an open letter to her 18-year-old self in Vogue expressing her surgery regret.
“Don’t mess with your boobs. All those years I denied it – stupid … Just celebrate what you’ve got,” she wrote.
Ali Oetjen, leading lady in Ten’s upcoming The Bachelorette, said last week her breast implants “were not money well spent.”
If she had her time over, Oetjen “would not have gotten them done,” she told The Sunday Telegraph, admitting to also having her lips “done” which she would not do again.
“I would only ever have plastic surgery again to get my breast implants removed. I do not like my boobs.”
After breastfeeding two children, Gisele Bündchen had her breasts augmented in 2015. But, she recently spoke out about the decision, which she now regrets.
“When I woke up, I was like, ‘What have I done?’ I felt like I was living in a body I didn’t recognise,” the Brazilian model told People.
“For the first year I wore [baggy] clothes because I felt uncomfortable,” she said.
Canberra plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Tony Tonks said in his experience explantation without a replacement implant is very rare.
“Most women are pretty happy with their implants. They may have gotten harder, but women don’t want to change them dramatically,” he told The New Daily.
These women may opt for a mastopexy, which is a breast lift, or an augmentation mastopexy (implant and lift) after having their implants removed, Dr Tonks said.
Like breast augmentation, explant procedures are not to be taken lightly and require a thorough consultation with the surgeon.
“Using the scar through the nipple, or below the nipple or underneath the breast, we approach the implant and remove it through that incision,” he said.
Patients should also factor in recovery time and follow up session costs. Though, according to Dr Tonks, recovery is generally quicker in removal than in augmentation.
“Usually the fee is smaller if it’s a smaller extraction. If it’s a mastopexy it’s similar to augmentation in terms of fees, but can vary depending on the time in surgery,” Dr Tonks said.
Dr Ellis Choy, a specialist plastic surgeon from Sydney, performs hundreds of breast implant-related surgeries each year, including implants, reconstruction in cancer patients and explants.
He told The New Daily that he has noticed a 30-40 per cent increase in demand for explants in his practice.
“The trend is still overwhelmingly to have implants than to have them removed. But there is a growing trend of women having reservations about having the medical devices in their body,” Dr Choy said.
Some of the reasons cited by women in his practice include medical complications (such as rupture) or psychosocial factors, which he said has been fuelled by increased media reports of ‘breast implant illness’.
Also referred to as ‘breast toxicity’, the condition reportedly can cause pain, headaches and memory fog. It’s not a well understood condition, even by specialists, and is yet to be recognised as a disease by the Australian Medical Association .
Other patients are having explant procedures purely for aesthetic reasons, Dr Choy said.
“Some women are not happy with the result of their surgery and they come to me for correction. It was probably not done right, or the implant is too high or too low,” he said.
“Other women come to me for ‘downsizing’. They don’t want them so big anymore, but they are not prepared to go without them at this stage.
“Others are fuelled by media or celebrity trends.”
He said women who opt for an explant will often follow up the procedure with a breast lift to restore a natural look.
“Sometimes when the implant comes out, the breast can look deformed … a lot more deflated.”
When asked what the most requested size or look is among his patients, Dr Choy said, “It depends on which celebrity you follow on Instagram.”
Dr Tonks said his clients are still opting to go larger when getting their implants replaced.
“It becomes more about balancing the aesthetic of the breast to the body, and that most commonly involves an increase to the implant,” he said.
“If the woman had her implants put in in her 20s and is now in her 40s and has put on a lot of weight, then the bigger shape is appropriate for her age.”