What you can expect
You can have a contraceptive implant inserted during a visit to your health care provider's office. The actual procedure takes just a minute or so, though preparation will take a bit longer.
During the procedure
You'll lie on your back with the arm that will receive the implant bent at the elbow and positioned near your head. Your health care provider will locate a groove between the biceps and triceps muscles on the inner side of your upper arm. He or she will inject a local anesthetic and then use an applicator to insert the device just beneath your skin. Inserting the device too deeply makes removal difficult.
After the procedure
Your health care provider will feel your arm to confirm the presence of the implant and have you do the same. If necessary, he or she may also use an ultrasound or X-ray to confirm that the device has been inserted.
Your health care provider will cover the insertion site with a small bandage. He or she may also apply a pressure bandage to minimize bruising. You can remove the pressure bandage in 24 hours, but keep the small bandage clean and in place for three to five days.
It's common to experience some degree of bruising, pain, scarring or bleeding at the insertion site.
Contact your health care provider if you develop:
- Breast lumps
- Heavy, prolonged vaginal bleeding
- Signs or symptoms of a blood clot in your leg, such as persistent pain and swelling in your calf
- Signs or symptoms of jaundice, such as yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
- Signs or symptoms of an infection at the insertion site, such as tenderness, redness, swelling or discharge
- Signs or symptoms of pregnancy at any time after the contraceptive implant is inserted
The contraceptive implant can prevent pregnancy for up to three years. It must be removed and replaced at the three-year point to continue offering protection from unintended pregnancy.
Your health care provider may recommend removing the contraceptive implant earlier if you develop:
- Migraine with aura
- Heart disease or stroke
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Significant depression
To remove the device, your health care provider will inject a local anesthetic in your arm beneath the implant. He or she will make a small incision in your skin and will push the implant toward the incision until the tip is visible and can be grasped with forceps.
Your health care provider will then pull out the implant, close the incision and apply a pressure bandage. Contraceptive implant removal typically takes less than five minutes.
If you choose, a new device can be implanted as soon as the original device is removed. Be prepared to use another type of contraception right away if you don't have a new device inserted.