If you’re a woman with breast implants odds are at some point you’re going to ask yourself, “Is BII real and do I have it?”
This is despite the fact that various official organizations warn that breast implants should not be regarded as lifetime devices. The FDA in the US, for example, explains that the longer you have breast implants, the more likely it will be for you to have them removed. In addition, their list of risks associated with this procedure is extensive and detailed, ranging from chest wall deformity to toxic shock syndrome.
Now, about 50 years after breast implants were first introduced globally, un-tracked numbers of women are complaining of a recognizable pattern of health problems, which they attribute to their implants. Those suffering from these symptoms generally refer to the condition as Breast Implant Illness or BII (although non-medical, this term is widely used). Various social media groups and organizations have been formed by these women, most notably Healing Breast Implant Illness and The Implant Truth Survivors.
Unfortunately, you will not get help identifying breast implant illness from your doctor or plastic surgeon. There is no test for breast implant illness and it’s not acknowledged yet by most of the medical community. Many women suffering from breast implant illness are misdiagnosed and mistreated for diseases that have similar symptoms and have been repeatedly told their breast implants are not causing their symptoms. Don’t waste time on misdiagnoses and mistreatment. Time is of the essence to your health. Trust your inner wisdom. Saline and silicone breast implants made with toxic chemicals and heavy metals do not belong in healthy bodies. Further, your plastic surgeon may attempt to talk you out of explant and instead suggest replacement or a different kind of implant because he wants to make more money. He may tell you that a Total Capsulectomy is not necessary. Do not believe this, in fact, we suggest not using your original plastic surgeon for explant unless he/she readily acknowledges breast implant illness and insists on a En Bloc/Total Capsulectomy explant and is experienced at removing breast implants En Bloc.
What Is Breast Implant Illness?
Breast implant illness is the name given to the variety of symptoms and illnesses reported by women after implantation. Often, allergy-like symptoms including fatigue, muscle weakness, aches and pains, and brain fog begin shortly after breast augmentation surgery. While silicone is used for a variety of medical devices, including pacemakers and cochlear implants, research is now pointing to symptoms appearing after exposure to silicone. (1)
In fact, the 2008 study “The Association Between Silicone Implants and Both Antibodies and Autoimmune Diseases” stated that women with silicone breast implants had a higher IgE serum level than women without silicone breast implants. (2) IgE levels are high when the body’s immune system responds to a perceived threat, releasing additional immunoglobulin E. Elevated concentrations are found in various diseases including primary immunodeficiencies, infections, inflammatory diseases, and malignancies. (3)
Since 2008, women with breast implants diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in the breast (otherwise known as breast-ALCL) has increased, according to a 2018 study. The study utilized a Dutch pathology registry that held clinical data between 1990 and 2016 to identify all patients diagnosed with primary non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the breast and whether or not they had breast implants. Among 43 identified patients with breast-ALCL, 32 of the women had ipsilateral breast implants, compared with one among 146 women with alternate primary breast lymphomas. Prevalence of breast implants in women aged 20 to 70 years old was 3.3 percent; cumulative risks of breast-ALCL in women with implants were 29 per million at 50 years old and 82 million at 70 years old. The study concludes there is an associated risk of breast-ALCL with breast implants, however, the risk still remains minute.
Other symptoms of breast implant illness include depression, panic attacks short-term memory loss, hair loss and changes in the skin.
Breast Implant Illness: 6 Dangers of Breast Implants
- Chronic Chest Pain. A small study conducted at Baylor College of Medicine found silicone breast implants may cause an atypical chest pain syndrome, similar to heart attacks. Chest pain was considered severe and at the end of the study, all 11 patients had implants removed, with 5 ruptures noted and an additional 5 patients with free silicone in surrounding tissue, whether the implant was ruptured or not (5), signaling silicone leakage or weeping.
- Capsular Contracture. After implantation of either saline-filled or silicone gel-filled implants, scar tissue known as the “capsule” forms around the implant. In some cases, this scar tissue may tighten and squeeze the implant causing breasts to become uncomfortably firm, visibly distorted, or even painful and hard. Additional surgery may be required to correct this condition and may include the removal of the capsule tissue and removal of the implant. The FDA warns this may happen again after surgical correction. (6)
- Rupture Rates. Rupture rates, as high as 40% for some models of breast implants (that have now been recalled) are reported with researchers finding that a minimum of 15% of “modern implants” can be expected to rupture between the third and 10th year after implantation. (7)
When a saline-filled breast implant ruptures, the salt water leaks out and the body absorbs it. There have been circumstances in the last few years where mold and bacteria have grown inside saline implants causing adverse side effects. (8)
When a silicone breast implant ruptures, the first signs are breast pain and a change in the shape of the breast. If you suspect your implant has ruptured, speak with your doctor immediately about an MRI scan, especially if you are experiencing any signs or symptoms related to silicone poisoning or toxicity.
Also, when a silicone breast implant ruptures, the immune system attempts to separate the silicone from the body, creating a “siliconoma.” Researchers have recently found that siliconomas can travel throughout the body to reach the extremities. (9)
In the study “Pathology of Silicone Leakage from Breast Implants” conducted by the Department of Pathology at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, researchers outlined that silicone leakage and “gel bleed” is associated with histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis and autoimmune and connective tissue diseases. The conclusion drawn was that side effects may be significant enough to lead to further discussion about removing the implants from the market. (10)
- Suicide. Researchers have found that breast augmentation surgery can stimulate a systematic stress response and increase a pre-existing risk of suicide in women. Researchers found that there is a two- to threefold increased suicide risk among individuals who have had breast augmentation surgery and that further examination and research is necessary. (11)
And, the National Cancer Institute seems to agree to state, “The excess risk of suicide among the implant patients remains of concern.”
- Connective Tissue Disease. In 2001, the Journal of Rheumatology published research conducted by the Office of Surveillance and Biometrics, Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the FDA. Researchers found that women with silicone gel-filled breast implants that had ruptured were significantly more likely to have fibromyalgia, polymyositis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, pulmonary fibrosis, eosinophilic fasciitis, and polymyalgia than others in the study. (12)
The study itself stated, “If this association persists in other studies, women with silicone gel breast implants should be informed of the potential risk of developing fibromyalgia if their breast implants rupture and silicone gel escapes the fibrous scar capsule.” However, this significant finding is not included in the FDA’s “Risks of Breast Implants” highlighted below.
The article, “Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvant (ASIA) Evolution After Silicone Implants. Who is at risk?,” published in Clinical Rheumatology, recommends that individuals who have previously diagnosed an autoimmune disease or a genetic preponderance for a hyperactive immune system should not be considered candidates for silicone gel-filled breast implants. (13)
- Increased Cancer Risk. In 2001 the National Cancer Institute found that women with breast implants have significantly elevated instances of cancers of the stomach, vulva, brain, and leukemia. (14)
In addition, the FDA, like many health organizations, has stated that women with silicone breast implants do have a higher risk for developing the rare anaplastic large cell lymphoma. (15) This type of cancer can be particularly insidious because as of 2015 only about 30 percent of plastic surgeons were discussing risks of this cancer with patients. For some reason that doctors and researchers don’t yet understand, the risk of this rare lymphoma is higher with textured implants rather than smooth implants. If it’s diagnosed early enough, it’s usually treatable and not often fatal. However, as of March 2017, the FDA had received reports of nine deaths as a result of breast implant-induced anaplastic large cell lymphoma. (16)
Researchers at the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases in Israel found that breast implants actually cause a chronic stimulation of the immune system against the prosthetic material. The study recommends that patients who experience an inflammatory response to silicone should be monitored carefully as “serious health effects can follow.”(17)
In addition to the 6 breast implants dangers outlined above, the FDA publishes “The Risks of Breast Implants,” which are: (18)
- Additional Surgeries. Breast implants are not considered lifetime devices. Patients should expect to have surgery for replacement every 10-15 years.
- Asymmetry. Breasts may not be symmetrical after implantation.
- Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding may or may not be affected by implants. Another consideration is that it is possible that a small amount of silicone may pass through breast implants’ silicone shell into breast milk during breastfeeding. The FDA states that there are no established methods for accurately detecting silicone levels in breast milk. (19)
- Breast Pain. Ongoing pain in the nipple or breast.
- Breast Tissue Atrophy. Thinning and shrinking of the breast tissue and skin.
- Calcification/Calcium Deposits. Hard lumps around the implant that can be mistaken for cancer during mammography.
- Chest Wall Deformity. Rib cage and chest wall can appear deformed.
- Deflation in Saline Implants. Leakage of saline caused by valve leak, tear or rupture of the silicone shell.
- Delayed Wound Healing. Incision site fails to heal normally.
- Extrusion. The skin breaks down, and the implant appears through the skin.
- Hematomas. Blood collects near the surgical site resulting in swelling, bruising and pain. Large hematomas may require surgical draining.
- Iatrogenic Injury/Damage. Damage to breast tissue or implant as a result of the implant surgery.
- Infection, including Toxic Shock Syndrome. Caused by wounds contaminated with bacteria or fungi. If antibiotics fail, the implant may need to be removed.
- Inflammation/Irritation. Redness, swelling, pain, and irritation caused by the body as a result of injury or infection.
- Lymphedema or Lymphadenopathy. Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes.
- Malposition/Displacement. The implant may not be in the correct position after surgery. Shifting can occur due to gravity, trauma or capsular contracture.
- Necrosis. Dead skin or tissue around the breast caused by infection, steroids, smoking, chemotherapy/radiation and excessive heat or cold therapy.
- Nipple/Breast Changes. Increase or decrease in the feeling and sensitivity of the nipple and breast. May affect sexual response or breastfeeding.
- Palpability. The implant is felt through the skin.
- Ptosis. Breast sagging due to aging, pregnancy, or weight loss.
- Redness/Bruising.Bleeding during surgery can cause the skin to change color; it is likely temporary.
- Seroma. Fluid may collect around the implant causing swelling, pain and bruising. The body may absorb small seromas; however, larger ones will require surgical draining.
- Skin Rash. Rash on or around the breast.
- Unsatisfactory Style/Size. The patient is unsatisfied with the overall look.
- Visibility. The implant can be seen through the skin.
- Wrinkling/Rippling. Wrinkling of the implant that can be seen or felt through the skin.
Breast Implant Illness: Consider “Explant” Surgery
Dr. Edward Melmed, a leader in plastic surgery, implanted thousands of women over the years. In 1992 he started taking breast implants out instead of putting them in. (20) “Like most plastic surgeons, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with implants. We were always told that implants would last forever. We know that is not true anymore.”
Now, women from around the globe suffering from breast implant illness and other symptoms seek out Dr. Melmed and other plastic surgeons that are willing to remove breast implants and not replace them. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 28,467 implant removals were completed in 2016. (21)
Research supports explantation for individuals experiencing adverse effects and symptoms. Recently, researchers from the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, stated that explantation of the implants may reduce the symptoms, including fatigue, joint and muscle pain, morning stiffness, night sweats, cognitive and dermatological complaints.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, or have been diagnosed with an autoimmune-related disease, having your implants removed may provide the relief you’ve been seeking.
Multi-thousands of women are following a great resource found here with Nicole at https://healingbreastimplantillness.com/. There are also private facebook pages where you can share your story and interact with other women experiencing the same issue you are.
Here you can find all the information you need and where to find the right doctor for an explant. List of explant surgeons can be found here https://healingbreastimplantillness.com/explant-surgeons/
At Connor Wellness Clinic we help women with implants and after explant with healing and supporting the body through natural therapies.
If you’re unsure if you want to have your implants removed and are suffering from many health issues we offer programs to help bring your body back into balance.
If you’ve had an explant and are ready to get on the road to recovery we offer programs to help you get your health back and dampen any autoimmune response you may be experiencing.
Call today to get your testing underway!