Breast implant exchange is a cosmetic procedure that removes previously placed implants and replaces them with new ones. Surgeons perform this surgery to change the size of the breasts, correct asymmetry, or improve their structure. There are many different and logical reasons to change implants, whether it’s because a patient wants a change, or to decrease uncomfortable symptoms caused by current implants. This procedure gives the chest a new contour and typically improves a patient’s quality of life.

Dr. Joseph Michaels is a board-certified plastic surgeon in the Washington DC area. He performs the most popular and requested cosmetic procedures including tummy tucks, facelifts, and breast enhancement. If you are looking for a change in your chest contour, schedule a private consultation with him today. Call your closest location in Rockville, MD at (301) 468-5991 or Fairfax, VA at (703) 957-8610. Dr. Michaels also offers virtual consultations, or you can contact us online to schedule an in-person appointment.

All About Breast Implant Exchange

Sometimes, after a prior breast augmentation, a patient wants a change. Dr. Michaels performs breast implant exchanges for those who would like to keep their breast implants, but want to replace their current ones with a fresh pair. This may be because they are experiencing negative effects from their current implants, or simply because they want a cosmetic change in contour.

Some reasons for breast implant exchange include: (1)

  • Capsular Contracture
  • Breast Ptosis (Sagging)
  • Implant Malposition (High or Low)
  • Implant Visibility
  • Implant Rotation
  • Rippling
  • Asymmetry
  • Infection
  • Rupture
  • Requested Change in Volume

What is Capsular Contracture?

When a foreign object, like a silicone breast implant, is placed in the body, the body’s natural reaction is to build scar tissue around it to protect internal structures. This is completely normal and happens with all types of implants. In breast augmentation, this scar tissue is called a “capsule” and is normally thin and unnoticeable to the patient. Sometimes this scar tissue builds up too much and becomes hard, leading to uncomfortable symptoms. This condition is called capsular contracture, and it is one of the main reasons patients request breast implant exchange surgeries. (1) When a patient has capsular contracture, this scar tissue is thicker and harder, which can make the breast area feel painful and impact the entire chest contour. It is not entirely known why this happens, but some experts suspect that it forms from a combination of bacteria in the body’s immune response. (2)

During a breast implant exchange, Dr. Michaels can perform a capsulectomy to remove this scar tissue and the implant itself. This surgery involves removing the implant through the same or a similar incision pattern used during the patient’s first breast augmentation surgery. He carefully removes the implant with the capsule intact and typically places the new implant in a restructured or completely new pocket.

Dr. Michaels determines his procedure plan and performs the safest and most conservative surgical option to prevent further damage to the breast. This allows him to adequately remove the capsule and implants, setting up the area correctly before new ones are placed. He examines the treatment area and explains his surgical approach during your initial consultation.

Benefits of Breast Implant Exchange

Undergoing a breast implant exchange offers several benefits, including:

  • Improved Aesthetics: The procedure allows patients to improve the appearance of their breasts by addressing concerns they may have with their current implants.
  • Enhanced Confidence: Breast implant exchange can boost self-esteem and confidence by providing patients with breasts that align better with their desired aesthetic goals.
  • Versatility: Patients have the opportunity to choose implants that better suit their current preferences, such as changing the implant size, shape, or texture.
  • Resolution of Issues: This procedure enables the correction of concerns like capsular contracture, implant rupture, or asymmetry, leading to a more balanced and natural look.

Ideal Candidates

If you are looking to change your implant size or correct an implant-related problem, breast implant exchange may be a good fit for you. You may seek implant exchange simply because you are unhappy with your current breast contour, or to correct rippling or breast sagging after aging or pregnancy. To undergo any kind of breast enhancement surgery, you should be in good health without any serious medical conditions that negatively impact your ability to heal. You must also be completely healed from your first augmentation before undergoing this surgery. It typically takes at least six months for breasts to settle into a natural position after implantation, so please wait until the chest reaches its final contour. You should also have reasonable expectations for the outcome and reachable cosmetic desires. If you are experiencing capsular contracture, it is important to remember that the condition could reappear even after implant exchange surgery. Dr. Michaels uses many different techniques to give your new implants the best possible environment to reduce this possibility.

If you are interested in finding out more about breast enhancement, read his blog for more information about breast augmentation.

Personal Consultation in Washington, DC

Dr. Michaels will instill confidence and reassurance during your private consultation. He will ask questions about your current health to determine your candidacy for breast implant exchange surgery. He will then examine the treatment area, noting the position of the current implants, their appearance, and if any asymmetry is present. This will help him create a customized treatment plan to better care for your specific situation. He will perform all necessary blood tests and labs to gauge your health and will order imaging to observe the internal structures of the breasts.

This appointment will offer you both time to discuss the details of the surgery. You can express your cosmetic concerns and explain your outcome expectations. If implant exchange is suitable for your particular circumstances, a member of Dr. Michaels’ staff will help you schedule your future surgery and follow-up appointments.


To prepare for breast implant exchange surgery, please avoid the following:

  • NSAIDs (eg. aspirin, ibuprofen)
  • Smoking (eg. tobacco, nicotine)
  • Supplements (eg. ginger, vitamin E)
  • Alcohol

Dr. Michaels encourages all surgical patients to prepare the following before your surgery date:

  • Comfortable Space: Create a relaxing space at home to encourage a smooth recovery.
  • Time Off Work: Request at least seven days off of work to rest.
  • Childcare: Arrange for help around the house to better focus on utilizing downtime.
  • Personal Help: Find a loved one to stay with you for a couple days after surgery.
  • Trusted Transportation: Ask a trusted friend to drive you to and from appointments.
  • Prescriptions: Pick up all necessary medications before your procedure.

Breast Implant Exchange Procedure

Before your surgery. Dr. Michaels will mark the treatment area with a surgical pen to plan his approach. We will then administer the proper anesthesia before numbing the area with topical medication. Once you are comfortable, Dr. Michaels will make his incisions, typically near or along your existing breast augmentation scars, and navigates toward the implant pocket. At this point, he may simply remove and replace the implants in two simple steps, or he has the opportunity to alter the breast pocket and correct abnormalities before continuing. After removing the old implants, he mends the breast pocket or creates a new one, then safely places the new implants. This surgery typically takes anywhere from one to three hours depending on your circumstances.

Recovery & Results

Recovery after breast implant exchange will be much the same as your original breast augmentation. The treatment area will likely swell and bruise in the following months. Dr. Michaels provides a compression garment to wear consistently to preserve your results and curb swelling. Most patients take only one to two weeks off of work, but patients should avoid strenuous activities for at least six weeks after their procedure. It is important to take all prescriptions from Dr. Michaels as instructed and not drive while you are taking prescription pain medications.

The final results of a breast implant exchange are not entirely visible until the swelling dissipates and the chest settles into a more natural position. This can take anywhere from six months to a full year. The breasts will start to feel softer and more natural as time passes. Once completely healed, the results are long-lasting.

Complementary Procedure: Breast Lift

For patients experiencing breast sagging, Dr. Michaels can perform a breast lift during your implant exchange. This procedure removes excess skin from underneath the nipple-areola complex to restructure the breast and reposition the nipple for a more youthful looking contour. During your implant exchange, he can extend his incisions to safely measure and remove skin or soft tissue. He repositions the nipple-areola complex higher on the breast mound and sutures the breast in layers starting in the deep fascia. This is all done after placing the new breast implant.

How Much Does Breast Implant Exchange Cost in Washington DC?

Since Dr. Michaels personalizes each procedure plan, everyone’s estimated cost differs.

To receive an expected price breakdown for a breast implant exchange, please schedule a private consultation. Contact Dr. Michaels’ offices directly at:

Rockville, MD: (301) 468-5991

Fairfax, VA: (703) 957-8610


How long do breast implants typically last?

Most modern silicone implants last anywhere from 10 to 20 years before needing replacement.

How do I know when I need to replace my breast implants?

Many patients decide to exchange their implants when the breasts start to look or feel unnatural. If experiencing an implant rupture, for instance, patients notice a quick change in breast texture or size. This is often the first sign to receive new implants or remove them completely through explantation.

Is the second breast augmentation often easier than the first surgery?

Patients typically feel like their second breast augmentation is easier or more simple than their first surgery. Since they understand what the recovery will be like, this can sometimes ease the anxiety or stress that was more present before their first augmentation.


  1. Denney BD, Cohn AB, Bosworth JW, Kumbla PA. Revision Breast Augmentation. Seminars in Plastic Surgery. 2021;35(02):098-109. doi:
  2. Kevin Tehrani M | NY, Tuesday J 12. What Is Capsular Contracture and How Can It Be treated? American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Published June 12, 2018. Accessed February 2, 2024.