Posted August 17, 2023 in Blog
For most women, getting breast implants can be a life-changing experience for the better. But for others, breast implants can set them down a path leading to a debilitating condition known as breast implant illness. You wouldn’t think that surgery with decades of data and experience behind it would leave some women getting sick from their breast implants, but it’s happening.
People who experience breast implant illness (BII), a chronic condition categorized by the onset of one or more symptoms following a breast implant surgery, including joint and muscle pain, chronic fatigue, rashes, and anxiety, report a variety of unexplainable symptoms that rarely let up on their own. While BII is not a recognized medical diagnosis, plenty of anecdotal evidence has numerous women wanting to remove their implants. Just one sign may be enough to categorize the unexplained pain as BII. However, the exact cause of breast implant illness is unknown, but it is believed that the body attacks the breast implant as a means of protecting itself.
If you’re experiencing new or strange unexplainable symptoms, you’ll want to get to the root of what’s happening. A consultation with your plastic surgeon can clue you into your options to alleviate your symptoms. Even if someone says there’s no way your breast implants can make you sick, don’t ignore the signs, especially if the symptoms persist.
Breast Implant Illness Symptoms
With BII, the symptoms experienced often take time to develop–it’s not typical to start feeling sick immediately after surgery. While each case of BII is different from one to the next, some of the more commonly reported symptoms can include:
- anxiety and depression
- breast and chest pain
- chronic pain
- chronic fatigue
- hair loss
- skin rashes
- hormonal changes
- neurological disturbances
- problems sleeping
- sensitivity to light and sun
What Causes Breast Implant Illness?
The root cause of BII is still unknown, it’s believed that the symptoms manifest either as a reaction to other medical conditions or as a way of the body rejecting the implant. While the implant itself can be a cause for concern, it’s thought that the fill and makeup of the implant itself, including silicone, can cause the body to react to the implant.
It’s important to know that BII is a treatable condition. Most women who complain of breast implant-related illness find that their symptoms improve after implant removal, also known as an explant.
It’s crucial to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brothers to determine the appropriate solution to help alleviate your symptoms. At this time, he will discuss your options and walk you through the different ways to remove your breast implants.
Upon removing breast implants for BII-associated symptoms, most patients find that an explant, where the breast implants are extracted from the breasts, alleviates all of their symptoms. Others only notice a slight improvement. Scientific data does not prove that explant procedures are a ‘cure’ for breast implant illness, and some signs may remain after implant removal, even if they are not as extreme as before.
The leading solutions for trying to alleviate the symptoms of breast implant illness include:
En Bloc Capsulectomy: This technique for removing breast implants involves removing the implant, scar tissue, and the uncut capsule that holds the implants. It’s the preferred technique for addressing silicone leakage. An en bloc capsulectomy differs from a traditional capsulectomy because the scar tissue surrounding the implant and in the breast is extracted as one piece. The implant is also removed with all of the scar tissue surrounding it attached or altogether. Removing the scar tissue and implant as one unit, instead of dissecting the tissue away from the implant, leaves less room for error.
Explant with a mastopexy (breast lift): This procedure is what Dr. Brothers often recommends for explant patients. An explant with breast lift involves first surgically removes the breast implants and immediately following, a breast lift is performed. Implants can stretch out the skin, and removing them can leave it droopy. Also, if the breasts have naturally begun to drop, a breast lift can lift them back to a more youthful and perkier position. The positioning of the nipples will also be at a more youthful position. Some explant and breast lift patients also say their breasts appear fuller and rounder, and the position of their nipples is more desirable since they are often addressed in the surgery.
Explant with mastopexy and a fat transfer to the breasts: Removing the breast implants and then performing a mastopexy and fat transfer is another way of alleviating BII symptoms while reshaping the breasts sans implants. After taking out the implants, fat is removed from elsewhere on the body, like the stomach or hips, via liposuction and cleaned before it is transferred into the breasts. While the fat transferred to the breasts won’t result in the same amount of fullness and volume an implant can achieve, it can add some shape to the upper part without relying on breast implants.
While most patients concerned with the effects of breast implant illness may opt to have their breast implants removed altogether, a small percentage will choose to undergo an implant exchange and replace the older ones with newer ones. But, again, it’s still undetermined whether this will help improve any symptoms.
At the end of the day, if you’re no longer happy with your implants or they are making you sick, removing them and going the au natural route may suit you best.