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Nexplanon Removal: What to Know

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 21, 2021

You've had the Nexplanon birth control implant in your arm for a while and you're ready for it to come out. Maybe you want to get pregnant now. Maybe your doctor has recommended that you try something else. Maybe the implant's period of effectiveness is coming to an end. The Nexplanon implant, remember, is good for a maximum of 3 years.

No matter your reason, there's no need to worry. Usually, it's a smooth, relatively painless process. Your doctor can do the whole thing in about 5 minutes.

Removing the Implant

You should be able to feel the Nexplanon implant on the inside part of your upper arm just under the skin. It's closer to your elbow than your armpit, in between the muscles of your upper and lower arm. You might remember that the implant is a thin, flexible rod that's about the size of a matchstick. Your doctor should be able to find it easily.

To remove it, they'll give you a shot of a local anesthetic (which will numb only that area). You might feel a small pinch or sting.

After that, you'll lie back, with your arm raised near your head, then they'll make a small incision in the skin of your upper arm. From the outside of your arm, the doctor will push the Nexplanon rod toward the incision, where they can grab it with something like a pair of tweezers and gently remove it.

They'll close the incision, you'll get a tight-fitting, pressure bandage to cover the area and minimize bruising, and then you're done.

The entire process can take less than 2 minutes. It typically takes less than 5. Complications are rare and usually not serious.

What's Next?

You might be a little sore once the anesthesia wears off. Your arm may swell a little. There could be some bruising in the area that might last a couple weeks. But generally, you should feel fine after they remove your implant.

Any side effects that you had with Nexplanon -- like weight gain, headache, acne, and mood swings -- might ease once the implant is gone.

It's important to remember that after you get the implant removed, you can get pregnant right away. You'll want to use another source of birth control immediately if you don't want that.

If you're getting the implant removed because it's nearing or at the end of its lifespan, but you want to continue with birth control, you can get another Nexplanon put in when the old one goes out. Then you'll be good for another 3 years.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Contraceptive Implant."

American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology: "Nexplanon, a radiopaque etonogestrel implant in combination with a next-generation applicator: 3-year results of a noncomparative multicenter trial."

American Society of Anesthesiologists: "Local Anesthesia."

Planned Parenthood: "What happens when the birth control implant is removed?"

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics: "Nexplanon® (etonogestrel) removal."

Contraception: "Real world data on Nexplanon® procedure-related events: final results from the Nexplanon Observational Risk Assessment study (NORA)."

Nexplanon: "Side Effects."

Kaiser Family Foundation: "Contraceptive Implants."

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