What to Expect for Breast Implant Exchange Incisions

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How do original breast augmentation scars compare to implant exchange incisions?

That all depends on where your original breast augmentation incision placement was.

If you had periareolar incisions or inframammary incisions in your original breast augmentation, your implant exchange scars will likely be in the same place as your original scars.

Breast implant exchange after photo from the Bustmob GoalFinder
Breast implant exchange after photo from the Bustmob GoalFinder

What are my incision placement options?

The type refers to the incision’s location on the body. The types of breast augmentation incision sites are: 

  • Inframammary incision
  • Transaxillary incision
  • Periareolar incision
  • TUBA incision

The transaxillary incision is in the armpit. The periareolar incision goes along the bottom edge of the areola and the TUBA incision is in the belly button. 

The inframammary incision, also known as the crease incision, is along the inframammary fold where the breast meets the body.

The crease incision tends to be the crowd favorite, not only because it makes implant exchanges easy, but also reduces the risk of damage to the milk ducts and changes in nipple sensation.

The most common incisions for breast implant exchanges are periareolar and inframammary incisions because they are the easiest way to get the old implant out and put the new implant in.

The periareolar incision goes along the bottom edge of the areola and the inframammary incision is along the crease of the breast. 
The periareolar incision goes along the bottom edge of the areola and the inframammary incision is along the crease of the breast. 

A Deeper Dive Into the Details

For the most part, a breast implant exchange is a lot like the first augmentation and is a fairly straightforward procedure. 

Fortunately, the recovery for an exchange tends to be a little shorter and the cost can be lower. If you had your breast augmentation many years ago, you may even find your new scar is finer and lighter than your original scar. 

Keep in mind that an implant exchange isn’t the same as a revision. A revision corrects a complication, while an implant exchange is simply changing the size, profile, shape, implant placement, or type

For example, you may decide to exchange your old saline implants, though nothing is ‘wrong’ with them, for smaller, fifth-generation silicone implants (also known as gummy bear implants).

To learn more about implant exchange recovery and costs, watch the full series in the free Bustmob Academy app

What’s the procedure like?

In a nutshell, if you’re only going up or down a size, an implant exchange can typically be done under local anesthesia, which not only saves on costs but recovery time. 

During your implant exchange, if your original scar is a periareolar or inframammary incision, your surgeon will cut out the old incision and any additional scar tissue, making a nice new, fine incision. 

If your original incision location is in the armpit or belly button, unfortunately, there will be additional scarring (most likely a crease or periareolar incision) in order to remove the implants. Your surgeon will use this new incision to also put in your new implants.

Depending on the size of your implant, your exchange scar will be between 1 and 1.5 inches long.

Once the incision is made, your surgeon simply takes the old implants out and replaces them with the new ones, closes the incisions, and viola. The procedure is complete.

Really want to get in the weeds about your exchange? Always be empowered to ask questions about your surgical plan based on your anatomy and your goals during your consultation. 

Breast implant exchange consultation at Amelia Aesthetics Raleigh
Breast implant exchange consultation at Amelia Aesthetics Raleigh

Does your implant exchange incision differ from your original incision site?

As we mentioned, if you had an inframammary incision or a periareolar incision, your plastic surgeon can cut along the original incision, which means no additional scars. 

However, if you had any of the other types of incisions during your original augmentation, your surgeon will make an inframammary or periareolar incision for your implant exchange. 

Why? Because they will need room to take the old implant out. 

The good news is that they can use the new incision to put in the new implants and if you have another implant exchange in the future, they’ll be able to cut along your latest incision. 

Additionally, if you’re having an implant exchange and a breast lift at the same time, your surgeon will use the breast lift incision to also exchange your implants. 

You can learn more about breast lifts and their incisions in the free Bustmob Academy app

Breast lift with implant exchange by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jeremy Pyle of Amelia Aesthetics Raleigh
Breast lift with implant exchange by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jeremy Pyle of Amelia Aesthetics Raleigh

Scar Care After an Implant Exchange

Just like your original breast augmentation incisions, taking care of your scars is important for them to heal their lightest and finest. 

Each surgeon will likely have their own scar protocol based on your unique procedure, so always be sure to check with your provider before changing, adding, or subtracting anything from your scar care.

But here’s a little of what you may see. 

At Amelia Aesthetics, you will typically be asked to keep your scar tape on for 6 weeks post-op. The scar tape is there to keep the incision close together for better healing. 

Removing the tape too early can add pressure to the incision, which can increase the size and visibility of scars.

Once cleared by your surgeon (typically after 6 weeks), you may want to start applying Scar Salve 2-3 times a day to eliminate redness, help reduce visibility, and help your scars heal beautifully. 

It’s also a good idea to keep incisions covered when outside and protected with sunscreen (even in the winter), especially in the first year. 

Our last pro tip: Be patient with yourself and your body. 

Remember, scars take up to 12 months to heal and typically look redder and darker before they look better. Give yourself some grace, time, and try not to overthink it.

You’ll get there! 

Exploring breast implant exchanges? We've got your back!

Our one-of-a-kind Bustmob Academy app is your go-to spot for hundreds of videos dedicated to all things breast implant exchange and other plastic surgery topics. 

Jenny Eden, the founder of the Bustmob Community, and Gretta Nance, who's been in the plastic surgery world for over two decades, guide you through the procedure itself, recovery times, common myths, risks, and FAQs before you schedule a consultation.

Looking for a supportive community for all things plastic surgery? Join us in the Bustmob Community

We've got 59,000 women (and counting) who are all about sharing their personal experiences, expertise, and answers to questions about surgery and even the more personal stuff, like how to chat with your kids about your surgery journey.

And guess what? The talented plastic surgeons over at Amelia Aesthetics are super generous with their time, hosting exclusive live Q&A sessions to answer your individual questions. 

So, if you're diving into the world of breast implant exchanges, we've got your back, front, and every angle covered!

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Jenny Eden
Founder, Bustmob Community
Gretta Nance
Lead Educator, Amelia Aesthetics
Ready to learn everything about plastic surgery?
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