This is a sponsored guest post.
Medical myth or fact? Is Breast Implant Illness Real?
Read on to find out.
To begin with, breast implant illness is real and at the same time, isn’t real.
It’s true that breast implant illness isn’t an official medical condition. However, we can’t deny the fact that hundreds of women have been complaining about health complications that they believe are caused by their breast implants.
This is likely the result of improperly-conducted surgeries rather than something inherent to breast augmentation itself.
Allow us to explain.
What is Breast Implant Illness?
Very few women and even doctors have heard of this perceived medical condition (It’s believed that breast implant illness doesn’t exist). Most people come across this name after they’ve become patients and are seeking medical assistance to cure a wide variety of symptoms.
Breast Implant Illness (or BII), is an unofficial illness known for its bundle of symptoms. It’s one of the reasons why doctors and patients are quick to mistake it for other illnesses.
BII is said to affect women with breast implants and who have gone through reconstruction or cosmetic augmentation. Some doctors have gone further and linked it to the autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome influenced by adjuvants.
In simple terms, they claim that BII is caused by your body’s automatic reaction to what seems to it, a foreign and potentially harmful substance (In this case, the breast implants). However, this claim isn’t backed by any scientific proof.
They claim that BII isn’t fixed on specific types of breast implants. It’s known to affect women across all types of breast implants (Smooth surface, Silicone, Saline, Textured surface, round, and even tear-drop shaped breast implants).
What are the symptoms of Breast Implant Illness?
As mentioned earlier, BII’s symptoms are quite a lot.
It’s also important to note that its symptoms can show their faces at any time after breast implantation surgery. For some women, these symptoms are quick to show up (weeks or even days after surgery). For others, it can take up to 10 years.
Note: There are no official medical records that state that these are BII’s symptoms.
- Chronic pain (Muscle, joint, chest, and breast pains)
- Experiencing fatigue all the time
- Breathing complications
- Lack of sleep
- Hair loss
- Headaches and migraines
- Skin problems (rashes)
- Memory problems
- Mental problems like anxiety and depression
You might have noticed that this bundle of symptoms is also commonly seen in patients suffering from serious autoimmune and connective tissue illnesses like arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma. This is because a few of “BII’s victims” are also diagnosed with some of these illnesses. However, many of “BII’s victims” are clear of these disorders (further raising the eyebrows of many doctors and plastic surgeons).
How common is breast implant illness?
Since this is a topic that is yet to be thoroughly researched, there is no record stating how many BII patients there are today.
However, since it’s an illness that is highly dependent on a person’s immune reaction to a particular substance, some medical experts believe it’s genetic. It’s likely to sprout up in a person with a family history of autoimmune disorders.
Of course, despite this, there are others suffering from BII but without a family history of autoimmune disorders (The illness appears to have come out of nowhere).
What causes Breast Implant Illness?
Since BII is not an official medical condition, we don’t know its exact cause. However, some doctors were able to come up with some theories that try to shed some light on its origin.
- As mentioned earlier, some claim BII is as a result of the body reacting to what it believes to be a harmful or foreign substance (no facts are supporting this theory).
- Others claim that it’s not caused by the implants themselves. Instead, BII is caused by the surgical technique used (Makes more sense. The quality of your implants and augmentation surgery can do a world of good or harm to your health).
It’s also worth noting that not all women with breast implants develop BII. Its cause somehow has a lot to do with how your body reacts to certain materials used in manufacturing breast implants. Some doctors claim that this immune reaction is what causes inflammation which then brings about chronic muscle and joint pain.
Breast implants contain some amount of Silicone and Platinum that might be the causal agents of Breast Implant Illness (All breast implants have Silicone shells). The issue comes about when these substances leak out onto the surrounding body tissue.
Note: Not all people with Silicone leaks end up suffering from BII.
Are breast implants dangerous?
No, they aren’t. But this doesn’t mean you can’t suffer from breast implant complications. The best way you can protect yourself is by getting your implants from a certified plastic surgery clinic and surgeon. Your first step in doing this should be to reference a reliable local resource. If you’re in Miami, Florida, visit AAOM.
According to the FDA, breast implants can pose a threat to our health. The threat level is around 1%.
In addition to that, medical experts have also uncovered a new, rare, but treatable type of breast cancer known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (or BIA-ALCL). It usually erupts from the tissue surrounding the implant.
This type of cancer is usually found in women with Textured breast implants. The chances of infection are significantly higher if the implants are worn for a long time (years). The FDA has stated that this is one of the main reasons why around 20% of women remove their implants after hitting the 8-year mark.
Here are some of the common complications that come with breast implants:
- Wrinkling around the breast area
- Rupture and tearing of implants
- Breast pain
- The altered sensation on breasts and nipples
- Delayed healing
Breast implant illness- Diagnosis and Treatment
Since it’s an un-official illness, it doesn’t have a diagnostic test procedure. Experienced doctors can only diagnose BII based on the patient’s medical history. It’s usually a patient suffering from BII’s symptoms and who has sought medical assistance from several doctors but with no success.
It also involves testing the patient for other autoimmune disorders like lupus and arthritis. Sometimes the patient is only suffering from BII symptoms. In other situations, the patient might be diagnosed with both BII symptoms and autoimmune disease.
Removing breast implants and scar tissue capsules can go a long way in reducing the pain and symptoms. The procedure is known as “En bloc”. Not only will it relieve BII’s symptoms, but it will serve to prevent its spread.
However, removing breast implants and capsules does not guarantee total recovery.
Note: Total removal is the best way to deal with this set of symptoms. Implant replacement might solve the problem for a while, only for things to worsen over time (Remember, all breast implants have silicone shells).
Breast implant illness awareness
Although there is no official record supporting BII’s existence, we can’t deny the fact that many women are suffering from what might be breast implant illness.
Over the years, breast implant illness awareness has gone over the roof as women are openly reporting its symptoms to the FDA. There now exists a Facebook group on breast implant illness awareness by Nicole with over 100,000 members.