Breast Implant Removal - Cost / Price, Advice, Before / After Images & Videos

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Overview

What is a breast implant removal procedure?

A breast implant removal procedure is a surgical procedure that can be performed on women who already have breast implants. This procedure involves removing breast implants completely. Replacement implants are not put back in.

A breast implant removal procedure is a type of breast implant revision procedure. This procedure may be done in combination with other surgical procedures, including capsulectomy and mastopexy.

Capsulectomy

Women who have breast implants may experience the complication of capsule contracture. Capsule contracture is when a fibrous scar tissue capsule forms and contracts around the breast implant, causing pain and distortion of the breast. A capsulectomy is a surgical procedure to remove this fibrous scar tissue capsule that forms around a breast implant.

Mastopexy

A mastopexy is also known as a breast uplift procedure. A mastopexy involves removing excess skin and raising the nipple so that the breasts appear lifted and more youthful.

Why have a breast implant removal procedure?

Many women choose to have their breast implants removed for a number of different reasons:

Cosmetic reasons

Over time, some women may find that they no longer like the look of their current breast implants and want to get them removed. They may wish to improve the appearance of their breasts by:

  • Decreasing or increasing the size of their breasts
  • Improving any asymmetry
  • Improving the shape of their breasts

Due to complications

Another reason some women need to have their breast implants removed is following a complication such as:

  • Capsular contracture
  • Lateralisation
  • Double-bubble
  • Gravity effect
  • Implant rupture

PIP implants

Some women may wish to have their breast implants removed due to the PIP implant scandal. This scandal refers to the use of implants containing an unapproved silicone gel. Many women who have had these implants may wish to have them replaced with a safer implant that has a lower risk of rupture or leakage.

Candidates

Who can have a breast implant Removal procedure?

A breast implant removal procedure enables women to remove their current breast implants. A woman may want or need to remove her breast implants for a number of different reasons. Ideal candidates for a breast implant removal procedure include women who have any of the following problems:

  • Aged implants which require removal.
  • Unhappy with the cosmetic appearance of the breasts, such as shape, size, and symmetry.
  • Complications from implants, including capsular contracture, leakage, lateralization, double bubble and the effect of gravity.
  • Health concerns, such as due to PIP implants.

If any of these problems affect you then removal of your implants may greatly improve the issue. Often, you may not be aware of the specific name of the problem you are experiencing but you may be unhappy with the visual result. Your surgeon will be happy to assess and examine your breasts so that they can advise you on the most suitable procedure.

If you are seriously considering having a breast implant removal procedure then you should think carefully about how you want your breasts to look afterward. For example, after having implants removed it is likely that there may be some excess skin in the breast area. As a result, you may want to consider having a breast uplift at the same time to help reshape the smaller breasts. Carefully considering all the options will help you avoid disappointment with the cosmetic result. In addition, it may help to avoid having further surgery in the future.

Why have a breast implant removal procedure?

Aged implants

As medicine develops, the outcomes for patients continue to improve. Nowadays, although they are not considered to last forever, breast implants are designed to be both long-lasting and safe.

Patients who may have had breast implants put in a long time ago may have been advised to get the breast implants removed after a certain number of years. Your surgeon will be able to examine you during your consultation and give you advice on whether or not you need to get your implants removed.

Not only do older implants sometimes need removing, but the process of ageing and changes in your body may also change the aesthetics of your breast implants. Therefore, you may wish to have your implants removed if, over time, the size and shape of your breasts have changed.

Aesthetic reasons

As mentioned, the aesthetics of your breast implants may change over time. As you age, you may find that the skin and breast tissue becomes less supported and starts to sag or droop. Additionally, changes in weight or the changes that occur in pregnancy can also alter the breast shape. All of these factors can contribute to the aesthetic of your breasts changing.

If you are no longer happy with the appearance of your breast, in terms of size, shape and lift, then you may be a suitable candidate for breast implant removal. It is important that you speak honestly with your surgeon during your consultation and you discuss exactly what you would like to achieve with them. With this information, your surgeon will be able to advise you if what you want is possible, and how best to accomplish it.

Capsular contracture

A foreign body is a name given to anything that is not usually within the human body and is therefore recognised as ‘foreign’. A breast implant is, therefore, a foreign body as it is a new element that is introduced into the breast. When the body recognises something as foreign surrounding tissue responds by forming a capsule around it. This occurs with a breast implant. The capsule is made up of fibrous tissue and it will surround the entire implant. This process is completely normal and expected following breast implant insertion. The process will be slightly different from person to person.

In those who form more scar tissue, the breasts may feel particularly hardened. In some cases the capsule will form with muscular tissue involved. This muscular tissue is able to contract. When this occurs it is known as capsular contracture. This is a recognised complication of having a breast implant. Capsular contracture may cause problems because the contractions will alter the appearance of the breast implant. Therefore, the size and shape of the breast can become deformed. As well as this, the contractions themselves can be uncomfortable for the individual.

In order to treat capsular contracture, a surgical procedure called a capsulectomy is performed to remove the capsule. Therefore, a reason for having a breast implant removal can include experiencing the complication that is capsular contracture. The capsulectomy can be followed by an implant replacement procedure to restore the original size and shape that was desired.

PIP scandal

Some women wish to have their breast implants removed due to health concerns. This may be particularly true for those who received PIP implants. PIP implants were silicone breast implants that were found to contain an unapproved silicone gel. Once this fraudulent activity was discovered, it created a huge scandal and understandably caused a lot of fear in the women who had received the PIP implants.

PIP implants are known to be more prone to splitting and rupture than high-quality approved implants. All breast implants carry a risk of rupture, but PIP implants carry much higher risk – there is up to a six times greater chance of rupture. If an implant ruptures it can be uncomfortable and require removal. However, there is no evidence which suggests that PIP implants are a serious danger to health. Despite this, it is understandable that many women with PIP implants wish to get them removed and replaced with high-quality approved implants.

PIP implants were made by a single company based in France and were largely used in private clinics for breast enlargement. Almost 50,000 women in the UK received these implants. Many will have had these removed since the scandal was uncovered, but many women still live with these implants with no impact on their general health. We would advise you to discuss this with your GP. If you are worried about the implants and would like to have them removed, a breast implant removal procedure may be suitable for you.

You can find out if your implants are PIP implants by getting in contact with the clinic where you had the original operation.  It is likely that you would have received a letter to tell you your implants are PIP implants if this is the case. Regardless of your decision to keep or change your PIP implants, it is useful to be aware of the signs of implant rupture. This includes:

  • swelling or a lump around the breast
  • a change in the shape of the breast
  • redness, pain or a burning sensation

Seek medical advice from your GP if you experience any of these symptoms or if you want further advice about your PIP implant.

What will an implant removal procedure not solve?

There are a number of issues that a breast implant removal procedure will not change:

Excess skin in the cleavage area

As we age, it is natural for our skin to become less firm. This, therefore, may give the appearance of having more skin in the cleavage area or it can make the breasts appear to droop. Simply having an implant removal procedure may not fix this problem. If having excess skin is of concern for you then you may wish to consider having a breast uplift to help remove the excess skin and reshape the breasts. This can be done in combination with a breast implant removal and should be discussed with your surgeon.

Nipple changes

Breast implant removal will not be able to treat the size or shape of the nipple-areola complex. If you are looking to change the nipple or areola of the breast (the region surrounding the nipple), you should speak to your surgeon. They may suggest a nipple-areola complex reconstruction procedure instead.

Procedure

How is a breast implant removal procedure performed?

A breast implant removal procedure can last 1 to 3 hours depending on the technique your surgeon uses and whether or not another procedure is involved such as a breast lift or a capsulectomy. A breast implant removal procedure involves the following steps:

1. Consent

Before having an operation, your surgeon needs to get your consent to do the procedure. This is important to ensure that you are fully aware of the risks and benefits of the operation. Gaining your consent means that you will have a thorough understanding of any complications that can happen during the surgery or afterwards. Your surgeon will talk to you about the risks and benefits and make sure you understand everything completely. After this, they will ask you to sign the consent form. We recommend that you ask any questions that you may have before signing this form so that you are comfortable with the decision you are making.

2. Anaesthesia

Before having an implant removal procedure, you will meet with an anaesthetist. Most removal procedures will be done under a general anaesthetic. This means that you will not be aware of the surgery. A general anaesthetic is effectively like being asleep during the operation; not only will you be unaware of the surgery but you will also be unable to feel any pain.

Your anaesthetist will explain to you how your pain will be controlled during the operation. They will also tell you what to expect from different types of anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist will ask you questions about your medical health, previous exposure to general anaesthetic and any allergies that you may have. It is important that you provide your anaesthetist with information that is as accurate as possible. This helps to make sure you are safe when you are given the general anaesthetic.

3. The procedure

Once you have been given your anaesthesia, your surgeon will then start the procedure. Regardless of the reason for breast implant removal, the surgical process of removal will remain the same.

  1. Your surgeon will first make incisions in the same place as where the incisions were made in your previous procedure.
  2. Then the tissue will be divided in order to reach the implants.
  3. Your surgeon will need to make incisions in the capsule. The capsule is a fibrous layer of scar tissue that forms around implants. This capsule formation is a normal process that occurs with breast implants.
  4. Once the implants are reached and identified, they are then removed from the breast along with the capsules.
  5. The skin is then brought together and sutured closed.

Can a breast implant removal procedure be performed with any other procedures?

After a breast implant is removed, the breasts may droop. The breast tissue will slowly return to its normal shape following surgery, but the tissue may have been altered by the process of ageing, the influence of weight change and by hormonal factors such as pregnancy. All of these factors can stretch the fibrous ligaments that support the breast so that the breast tissue is no longer supported and drops downwards. As a result, after a breast implant removal procedure, the breast can sag and may not be what you expected aesthetically.

Breast uplift

In order to avoid this, your surgeon may recommend that you have an uplift procedure following the removal of your breast implants. A breast uplift procedure is also called a mastopexy. The aim of the procedure is to lift up the breasts and make them appear more youthful. This is achieved by removing any excess skin around the breasts and then reshaping the breast tissue. The nipples may also be moved upwards to a more suitable position on the breasts. As a result, the breasts are firmer, higher and more shapely. The best results can be seen in smaller, sagging breasts, but the procedure can be used for any breast size.

A breast uplift procedure can be done alone or alternatively, you could choose to have a breast uplift in combination with your breast implant removal. Your surgeon may be more likely to recommend this if they feel that the breast tissue has become stretched.

What can I expect after a breast implant removal procedure?

Once you have had the operation, you will return to the ward to recover. The medical team will monitor you during this time. They will want to keep an eye on your levels of pain and make sure you are comfortable. You may feel groggy or drowsy after the operation. This is because of the general anaesthetic that you will have.

Many patients may be able to go home on the day of the procedure, provided that they recover well after the operation. You will not be able to drive after the operation; this is because of the general anaesthetic and the discomfort that you will be in. Therefore we recommend you arrange for someone to take you home from the hospital. It is important that you follow your surgeon’s specific guidelines and time-frames regarding recovery.

Your Consultation

What should I expect during my breast implant removal consultation?

You will meet your Medbelle surgeon for an initial consultation. This will usually last between 15 mins to one hour. During this meeting, your surgeon will talk with you about:

  • Your medical history
  • Any previous surgical history
  • Any medical conditions
  • Which medications you are currently taking
  • Your reasons for wanting a breast implant removal procedure
  • Your expectations for a breast implant removal procedure
  • Any additional procedures, such as a breast uplift, which can be done in combination with the removal.

Your surgeon will also examine your breasts and any previous scars. If you are suffering from any complications due to your implants they may discuss these in more detail with you. Your surgeon may also wish to arrange additional tests such as an ultrasound or MRI of the breasts.

What questions should you ask during your breast implant removal consultation?

Your consultation is an opportunity for you to speak honestly with your surgeon. Your surgeon is there to give you information about the procedure and to answer any questions you may have. You may want to try to make a note of your questions before you meet with your surgeon. That way, you can make sure you don’t forget to ask anything on the day of your consultation.

Some example questions that you may like to ask include:

  • Do you think what I want to achieve from surgery is realistic?
  • Do you have any before and after pictures of other similar operations you have done?
  • Would you recommend any additional procedures, such as a breast uplift?
  • What will the recovery process involve?
  • What technique do you normally use for this procedure?
  • Where will my scars be located?

Most surgeons strongly recommend a two week “cooling off period” between your consultation and having a procedure. This is to ensure that you have had time to think everything through and know that this is the right choice for you at this time.

Risk & Complications

What are the main breast implant removal risks and complications?

Before you consent to surgery, it is important that you educate yourself and are aware of all of the potential breast implant removal risks and complications. If you smoke, have a high BMI or have any serious medical conditions it can increase the risk of complications occurring during and after surgery. Some of the potential breast implant removal risks and complications include:

General surgical complications

All surgery carries some general risks. These include:

  • Blood clots
  • Anaesthetic risks
  • Allergic reactions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Post-operative pain

Aesthetic result

Many women will be happy with the cosmetic outcome of their implant removal procedure. However, in some cases, they may wish they had kept their old implants in place. It is important that you think carefully about whether or not to have a revision for cosmetic reasons. Your surgeon will discuss the options available to you and help you to decide what is right for you. It may be useful to see before and after pictures of other breast implant removal procedures that your surgeon has done. In addition, make sure you are open and honest with your surgeon about your expectations from surgery. This will help them tell you if what you want to achieve is realistic.

Need for further revisions

In most cases, an implant removal procedure will achieve the desired effect. However, some women may find they are unhappy with the outcome or suffer from more complications. As a result, they may require further revision surgery. Choosing an experienced BAPRAS/BAAPS affiliated surgeon will help reduce this risk. Importantly, it is beneficial to share with your surgeon exactly what you are hoping to achieve so they can confirm whether your goals are realistic before the surgery.

Excess skin

After breast implant removal, some women may find that they have excess skin around their cleavage area. The skin may have been stretched from the implants being in place. Unfortunately, even though the breast tissue gradually returns to its previous state, the excess skin stays stretched once the implants are removed. This can be a problem cosmetically for many women and it can make the breasts appear to droop. As a result, some women may choose to have a breast uplift procedure, known as mastopexy. During an uplift procedure, the excess tissue is removed and the breasts are reshaped.

Gravity effect

Over time, the breast tissue becomes less firm and can begin to droop downwards. This occurs in both natural breasts and those with implants. If you feel that your breasts are beginning to droop too much, this can be treated with surgery. In many cases, a breast uplift is performed to lift the breasts upwards and correct the effects of gravity.

Loss of sensation

After having surgery, you may experience an altered sensation over the chest area. This will generally get better with time, but can take up to several months. The most common symptoms include increased or reduced sensitivity around the surgical scar and nipples. In rare cases, nerve damage during surgery can cause permanent numbness.

Tissue necrosis

A rare complication of breast implant removal surgery involves damage to the blood vessels which supply the breast. If these vessels are damaged then there will be a lack of blood supply to the breast tissue and skin. This lack of blood supply can cause the tissue to die, also known as tissue necrosis. This process is much more common in smokers as smoking can cause damage to the inner lining of blood vessels. Diabetes and obesity also increase the risk.

Features of tissue necrosis include the skin turning a darker colour, and possibly turning black. Wounds can also develop. You may notice that your breasts feel lumpy, hard and painful. If you experience any of these symptoms you should get in touch with your surgeon as soon as possible. If the area of tissue necrosis is small it may heal by itself. However, if the area is larger then you may need further surgery to repair the wounded area of tissue.

Bruising and bleeding

Most women experience some bruising and bleeding after surgery. This is to be expected following any surgical procedure. However, sometimes this bruising and bleeding can be more severe. This usually happens soon after surgery, but can occur in the weeks afterward. You may notice symptoms such as the breast becoming very swollen and tight. If you experience these symptoms, you should contact your surgeon as soon as possible. A further surgical procedure may be required to treat the bleeding.

Infection

All surgery carries a risk of infection. If you are affected, this will become apparent in the first two to three weeks after surgery. In most cases, the infection will be mild and can be treated with antibiotics. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you should speak to your surgeon promptly:

  • Temperature above 38° C
  • Redness at the incision line that is beginning to spread away
  • Yellow, pus-like fluid coming from the incision site or drains
  • Pain or discomfort that can’t be controlled with painkillers

Preparing for your Treatment

How can I prepare for a breast implant removal procedure?

Before going in to have your breast implant removal surgery, there are a few things that you can do to prepare. These tips will help you to have the smoothest recovery with the best possible results. Here are some general breast implant removal preparation tips:

Preparation around the house before the procedure

Shopping & cooking

After surgery, you are likely to feel tired and will want to relax. Therefore, we suggest you do a big food shop before the day of surgery. This will help prevent you from having to go to the shops when you are recovering. We recommend you get plenty of nutritious foods to help keep you healthy during your recovery period. You may also want to cook some meals to keep in the freezer. That way you won’t have to worry about cooking either!

Household & cleaning

In order to make more time for recovering from surgery, it is a good idea to get any household chores out the way. We suggest that you clean the house and do chores such as laundry or taking out the bins before the day of your operation or alternatively you allocate these tasks to another household member.  You may not have the energy or the strength to do these jobs for a few days after the surgery. Equally, stretching and lifting will be very painful initially, especially across your breasts.

Easy to reach items

It is a good idea to put cupboard items that you frequently use in easy to reach places. For example, put mugs and tea in low-down cupboards or on the kitchen counter. The reason we recommend this is because your chest will be sore after your breast implant revision surgery. As a result, straining or reaching for items will cause a lot of pain and will not help your recovery. Preparing what you may need to have access to in advance can be useful to maximise the healing process.

What else can I organise before surgery?

Young children and pets

After surgery, you may feel tired and need extra help looking after young children and pets. As a result, you may want to ask friends or family to look after any young children or pets for the first week following surgery. This means you can focus your energy on getting better and hopefully be back on your feet quicker.

Driving and transport

You may feel very sore and drowsy following your operation. Therefore, you will not be allowed to drive immediately afterwards. It is essential that you arrange for transport to take you home safely after your operation. You may want to ask friends or family to help you with this. It is important to follow your surgeon’s specific time-frames regarding driving.

What about after the surgery?

Food and drink

A healthy diet is important in ensuring a smooth recovery process. After the surgery, you should eat high-protein, low-sodium foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, make sure to drink plenty of water and caffeine-free beverages. Avoid food and drink containing high amounts of sugars and salt during your recovery time. Alcohol should also be avoided as it can interact with any medications you may be taking in the recovery period. It can further add to the drowsiness you may feel as a result of the general anaesthetic.

Clothing

After the operation, your breasts and chest area may feel tender and sore. It is therefore important that you wear comfortable clothing to help reduce any discomfort. We suggest that you wear items of clothing that zip or fasten from the front during the first few days post-op. This will help prevent you from having to strain or raise your arms above your head. In addition, you may want to wear slip-on shoes in order to prevent having to bend over to put them on.

Your surgeon may also advise you to wear a supportive bra during the first few weeks after the operation. These are special bras designed purposefully for the post-surgical period. They will help to make your breasts comfortable and supported, thus aiding the healing process.

Aftercare

What can I expect after a breast implant removal procedure?

It can take some time to recover after any surgical procedure. Knowing what to expect will help you to feel prepared for what happens after surgery. Your surgeon will give you specific aftercare instructions which you should follow closely.

Directly after the procedure

After the operation, you will return to the ward to recover. During this time, the medical team will monitor you and make sure you are comfortable. If you have had a general anaesthetic, it may take some time for this to wear off. As a result, you may feel drowsy or sleepy. The medical team will regularly check up on you and make sure any symptoms such as pain or sickness are well controlled.

When can I go home after the procedure?

Patients may be required to stay in the hospital for different amounts of time after a breast implant removal procedure. This depends on a number of factors such as how long the surgery took; any pre-existing medical conditions you may have; and if there were any complications. During your consultation, your surgeon will discuss when they expect you to return home. Often this is on the same day as surgery but some patients will spend up to two days in hospital after a breast implant removal procedure.

After surgery, you will won’t be able to drive for some time. This is because of the general anaesthetic and the time it can take to wear off. Additionally, you may be in some discomfort after the procedure. It is important that you follow the specific instructions that your surgeon gives you about driving.

A follow-up appointment will be arranged for around 2 weeks after the operation. This appointment allows your surgeon to monitor your recovery and ensure your incisions are healing well.

When can I return to work?

You will need to take some time off work to help you with your recovery. Everyone will feel different after the operation and some people may take longer to recover. In addition, different jobs may require more time off as they are more physically demanding. Your surgeon will be able to give you specific advice on how long to take off work during your consultation.

Will I need a supportive bra?

After having a breast implant revision procedure, your breasts are likely to feel sensitive and sore. As a result, your surgeon may advise that you wear a supportive bra during the first 2-5 weeks after your breast implant removal procedure.

Can I shower as normal?

Your surgeon will give you specific instructions regarding showering and washing. You may not be able to have a shower or get the treatment area wet for several days after the operation. Once you are able to shower again, it’s important to consider that you may find it more difficult to wash and you may need some help with this.

When can I return to exercise and activities?

How soon you can return to exercise and activities will largely depend on how physically demanding they are. For the first three weeks, it is suggested that you avoid all sport and physical activities and focus solely on your recovery. It is important that you give your body time to heal and recover. During this initial recovery time, aerobic activities can cause swelling and slow down your progress and healing. After the third week, you may be able to do light physical activity, such as cycling. Once it has been six weeks since the operation, you should be able to resume your normal exercise and activities. Again, your surgeon will give you specific timeframes that you should follow.

How can I look after my scars?

After having your surgery, it is important that you follow your surgeon’s advice on how to care for the surgical wounds and any scars. This will help ensure the best possible cosmetic result from the operation. When it comes to scar care, your surgeon may recommend the following techniques to help reduce scarring:

  • Scar massage – starting only after the incision has fully healed and the scab has completely resolved on its own.
  • Silicone sheets or scar gels – when the glue/tape from surgery is removed and the incisions are fully healed, it is recommended to use these for six months to one year.
  • Keep your scars out of the sun and use a high factor sunscreen to avoid darkening your scars.

When can I expect to see final results?

It is important to remember that it may take some time for your breasts to fully settle and for you see the final results of your surgery. As a result, your breasts may appear tight, too high or unnaturally round. In addition, your nipples may feel numb or overly sensitive for some time. Generally, after around 8-12 weeks following the operation, your body should have recovered to the extent that you can see the results of your breast removal surgery. However, it may take up to 2-9 months for this healing process to be fully complete. Your surgeon will be able to give you time-frames specific to your recovery.

FAQs

What are some common breast implant removal FAQs?

It is important that you ask your surgeon any and all questions you have about your breast implant removal procedure. Common breast implant removal FAQs include the following:

How long should I wait before having a breast implant removal procedure?

It is common to be slightly dissatisfied with the results of implant surgery soon after the operation. This is because it takes time for the breast tissue to settle and the bruising and swelling to go down. Furthermore, it can take up to six months before you will be able to see the final results. As a result, it is suggested that you wait at least six months after having implant surgery before considering to have a revision for cosmetic reasons.

Is the incision site from my breast implant re-used for my implant removal?

Ideally, your surgeon will try to conceal any incisions and use the old ones from your previous operation. However, in some cases, they may have to make new incisions. Your surgeon will make every effort to ensure these are as small and discrete as possible. They will inform you where they plan to make their incisions before you have your operation.

Will a breast implant removal procedure cause more scarring?

Scarring is a complication that occurs following any surgical operation. It happens as part of the body’s natural healing process and is difficult to avoid. Your surgeon will try to reduce the amount of scarring from the revision procedure. As mentioned, they will try to use the old incisions rather than making new ones. However, the only way to completely avoid more scarring is not to have a revision operation.

Should my previous surgeon perform my breast implant removal?

This may be appropriate in some cases, as your surgeon will be familiar with your implants and will know how they performed the previous procedure. In some cases, however, it may not be possible or you may not want to use your old surgeon. When choosing a surgeon to perform your implant revision, make sure to use an experienced BAPRAS/BAAPS affiliated surgeon.

Should I be concerned about having PIP implants?

It is understandable to be worried if you have PIP implants. These were the implants that were made in France with an unapproved silicone gel which made the implants more prone to leakage and rupture. If you know that you have these implants we would advise you to speak to the clinic where you had the breast implant surgery done and to seek advice from your GP.

Although the implants are more prone to rupture they have not been found to be damaging to general health. Therefore, replacing the PIP implants is often a personal choice made alongside a healthcare professional. If you do choose to keep the implants you should make yourself aware of the symptoms of a rupture. Equally, it is advised that you have an annual check-up with a doctor to ensure you are not suffering from any complications.

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