Breast Explant Regret: What Is It, Why It Hurts, and What to Do About It

Written By: Amanda Savage Brown, Ph.D., LCSW

If you’re one of the many millions of women with breast implants, you may know they aren’t lifetime devices. They’re expensive to maintain, and not problem-free, so at some point, you may want or need to remove them through a surgery known as “explant.” (Read more about reasons women explant). Because explant involves changing the appearance of a highly sexualized part of your body, you may experience “breast explant regret”.

What is breast explant regret?

A woman lying face down on a bed, with one arm wrapped around herself; the way a women with breast explant regret may appear when in distress and trying to comfort herself

Regret is a blend of difficult thoughts and feelings, including sadness, disappointment, second-guessing, and worrying that you made a mistake.

Let’s just be super clear: regret feels like shit. (I often disclose to my clients that it’s among my least favorite of inner experiences.)

Breast explant regret may show up because your aesthetic outcome disappoints you, you feel worse on the inside than you anticipated, or you’re not experiencing the relief you hoped for by removing your breast implants.

It may also show up because you simply regret how your entire breast implant experience worked out for you.

Why is it a problem?

Because most humans want to move away from things that cause them pain or distress, your mind is naturally going to look for ways to “get rid” of breast explant regret. This means, your mind may try convincing you to get breast implants again. But depending on why you explanted in the first place (e.g., conflicts with your lifestyle or evolving personal values, difficulties with the financial upkeep, capsular contraction, breast implant illness, concerns over breast implant safety as discussed here), you may not want to opt in for another round.

That’s why finding a way to truly care for your breast explant regret is so important.

Next time breast explant regret shows up for you:

Genuinely validate how you are feeling.

This is NOT a time for false affirmations, silver linings, or positive reframes. Not only will your mind call bullshit on those approaches, they may lead to your mind ramping up its efforts to get you to pay attention to its misery. Instead, be real with yourself about whatever is hard and uncomfortable. For example, if your breasts’ aesthetics are disappointing, sincerely validate that you care a great deal about how your breasts look and that this is hard for you.

Give yourself the same care and compassion you give to others.

Imagine a woman you deeply love is feeling the same as you. Imagine she is hurting with sadness, disappointment, maybe fear over the future, and is regretting a decision she made. See her in your mind and see what you would do for her.

Would you embrace her, gently rub her arm or shoulder, listen intently to her, tell her you’re there for her?

Your answer to these questions provides valuable guidance for how to give yourself the care and compassion you need most. When I was feeling regretful over how my breasts appeared after explant, everything shifted when I chose to treat myself with the same tenderness I give my daughters.

Stay in the here and now.

Regret pushes and pulls you to the past and future. It leads you to spend time wishing you’d made a different choice, longing for things to be different, and fearing what is to come. So when you find yourself stuck in the past or fearing the future, gently direct your attention to the here and now. The present is the only place you can take care of problems needing you attention. It’s the only place you can really take care of you.  

Keep in mind…

These approaches aren’t about getting rid of the way you feel or trying to convince yourself to feel differently. Breast implant removal can be difficult…inside and out. It’s important to support yourself through the entire journey. These tips are evidence-based approaches for responding to inner pain in ways that don’t amplify it. They help you show up for whatever needs your attention, even during the most difficult times.

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Amanda Savage Brown, PhD, LCSW, is a self-acceptance counselor & coach. She uses the research-backed approaches from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help women reclaim their wellbeing from adverse childhood experiences, other trauma, grief, loss, and people-pleasing through mindful self-acceptance and values-guided change. 

She explanted in 2018, recovered from breast implant illness, and now specializes in helping women find their way before, during, and after breast implant removal.

She is the author of Busting Free, the forthcoming self-help book for women whose life journey includes breast implants.

Learn more at amandasavagebrown.com and follow her on FB and IG @dr.amandasavagebrown

Disclaimer: All information shared in these blog posts is educational and should not be used as a substitute for therapy or taken as therapeutic guidance.

© 2022 Amanda Savage Brown

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