Nexplanon Removal: Procedure, Side Effects, and Aftercare

Nexplanon Removal

Birth control plays a pivotal role in maintaining a balanced social life, and one of the most effective methods is contraceptive implants. Among these, Nexplanon stands out as a prominent choice. It is a small, flexible arm implant positioned under the skin of the upper arm, providing birth control for up to three years. However, there comes a time when the Nexplanon implant needs to be removed. This article provides a detailed guide to the Nexplanon removal process, its potential side effects, and what to expect afterward.

Understanding Nexplanon

Nexplanon, a successor to Implanon, is a contraceptive implant that provides long-term birth control. It is radio-opaque, meaning it can be detected via X-ray, a feature enabled by the small amount of barium sulfate in the implant.

The implant is a flexible plastic rod, about the size of a matchstick, and is placed under the skin of the upper arm. It releases progestin, which thickens the cervical mucus, thins the endometrium (uterine lining), and inhibits ovulation. This makes it more challenging for sperm to reach the uterus and for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

Nexplanon, also known as Etonogestrel Implant, provides contraception for three years.

When to Remove Nexplanon?


Nexplanon needs to be removed or replaced after three years. This could be due to the desire to become pregnant, a recommendation from a healthcare provider for a change in contraceptive method, or simply because the implant’s effectiveness is nearing its end.

The removal process is a simple and mostly painless procedure, typically taking less than five minutes.

The Removal Process

Preparing for Removal

Before beginning the removal procedure, healthcare providers need to familiarize themselves with the patient’s medical history and verify the exact location of the implant through palpation. It is also essential to check if the patient has any allergies to the antiseptic used during the procedure.

Removal Procedure

The removal process involves several steps:

  1. Identify the implant’s location and mark the area with a sterile marker.
  2. Antiseptic application to the area where an incision will be made.
  3. Local anesthesia administration under the implant.
  4. Making a small incision and gently pushing the implant towards it.
  5. Removing the implant with a pair of forceps or a similar tool.
  6. Ensuring complete implant removal, as leftover fragments need to be removed.
  7. Applying an adhesive bandage after removal.

In some cases, the implant may migrate from its original location. In such situations, an X-ray can be used to locate the implant, and minor surgery may be required for its removal.


After Removal: What to Expect?

Once the Nexplanon implant is removed, one might experience mild discomfort or swelling in the arm. Some bruising might also occur, which could last a few weeks. However, these are normal post-removal symptoms and should subside over time.

Side effects associated with Nexplanon, such as weight gain, headaches, acne, and mood swings, should also decrease once the implant is removed.

It’s crucial to note that after Nexplanon removal, the possibility of getting pregnant returns almost immediately. If pregnancy is not desired, another form of birth control should be implemented right away.

Post-Removal Care

After the removal procedure, it’s important to look after the incision area and be alert for any warning signs. If the removal site exhibits redness, consistent pain, or a high temperature (over 101 degrees Fahrenheit), or drainage from the site, contact a healthcare provider immediately.

An elastic bandage is usually applied after removal, which is to be kept dry and worn for 24 hours. After this period, a bandage is applied and kept for 3-5 days. Some bruising, discoloration, swelling, and pain may be experienced for a few weeks post-removal, but these symptoms are typically harmless.

Side Effects of Nexplanon

While Nexplanon is an effective contraceptive, it can have side effects, including irregular bleeding, weight gain, acne, headaches, and mood swings. Some less common but severe side effects may include:

  • Allergic reactions, such as rashes, hives, or blisters.
  • Liver-related issues, like dark urine, fatigue, or loss of appetite.
  • Blood pressure-related problems, like dizziness or changes in eyesight.
  • Lung-related issues, such as wheezing or breathing difficulties.
  • Stomach-related issues, including upset stomach, bloating, or fever.

In case of any of these symptoms, immediate medical attention is advised.

Possible Complications

Complications related to Nexplanon include bruising, irritation, scarring, and potential migration of the implant into the chest wall or within the vasculature. In such cases, surgery may be required to remove the implant.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Nexplanon protect you from pregnancy?

Nexplanon provides birth control protection for up to three years.

Does Nexplanon protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or diseases?

Nexplanon does not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or diseases (STDs). Condoms should be used for this purpose.

Why do you need to have Nexplanon replaced after 3-4 years?

Nexplanon needs to be replaced after three years because its effectiveness diminishes after this period. If the aim is to continue using a contraceptive, a new implant should be inserted at the time of removal.

What is it like having the Nexplanon implant removed?

Removing the Nexplanon implant is a straightforward, usually painless procedure carried out by a healthcare provider in a clinical setting.


Thus, Nexplanon removal is a simple and usually painless procedure that can be carried out by a healthcare provider in a matter of minutes. However, it’s essential to understand the process, know what to expect, and be aware of potential side effects and complications. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance.

Reference Links

Post Removal Instruction & Care