Who doesn’t want to be perfect? Thanks to ads, reality TV shows, and magazines, the thirst for the ideal body has never been so high. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 1.8 million people had cosmetic surgery in 2018 (x). Though breast implants may drastically improve the body’s figure and change one’s life for the better, many have reported signs of breast implant illness after getting them. If you’re considering breast implants, you should closely read the following statement from the FDA: (x)
“Breast implants are not lifetime devices. The longer you have breast implants, the more likely it is that complications will occur, and you will need to have them removed.”
What Is Breast Implant Illness?
Medical professionals have given the term “breast implant illness” to the uncomfortable and often unsightly side effects some women have experienced after getting breast implants. Symptoms have included muscle weakness, allergic reactions, swelling, inflammation, and various aches and pains throughout the body. Some have pointed to silicone, a synthetic material found in medical devices, as the main problem.
Cause of Breast Implant Illness
Studies showed no clear evidence of the link between silicone breast implants and chronic diseases in the early days. However, clear evidence from new studies point toward the opposite — that silicone causes an immune response in the body. Meaning, your body doesn’t like it. It fights against the new unrelated matter.
In 2008, the journal Clinical Rheumatology published a study of 15 people (eight men and seven women) showing that “silicone materials” in the body produced an immune response around the silicone itself. The evidence suggests an increase in autoimmune disorders, which is a disease that attaches healthy cells. (x)
The study shows levels of anti silicone antibodies and nonspecific immunoglobulins (proteins functioning as antibodies), especially IgE, were higher in research subjects with silicone in their bodies than in those without who didn’t have it in their bodies. (x)
Types of Breast Implants
There are two types of breast implants — silicone and saline-filled. (x)
- Silicone Breast Implants
These comprise silicone shells and a silicone gel. Studies such as the one referenced above have suggested these may cause some symptoms women with breast implant illness have described. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, FDA regulations stipulate women must be 22 or older to get them. (x)
A July 2016 scientific study compared 200 patients with Autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (additives) (ASIA) because of incompatibility silicone implants syndrome — an adverse reaction to the implants associated with ASIA. (x) After extensive research, the study concluded that patients developed health conditions related to the breast implants, thus supporting the issue that breast implants are not safe. Of course, more studies to substantiate these findings are conclusive. (x)
- Saline-Filled Breast Implants
These comprise silicone shells and a salt-water solution. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons states that these are available only to women over 18 but have the advantage of being postoperatively adjustable. (x) An overall study of collecting data from those your received saline breast implants states the chief complaint is deflation or rupture of the saline devices. Manufacturing defect and valve failure are some of the causes. (x)
Symptoms of Breast Implant Illness
- Breast Pain
Breast implants may cause constant pain in the chest or breasts themselves. This pain may be continuous and long-term, affecting a patient’s routine. A common symptom of pain is intercostal neuromas. (x) Damage to the peripheral nerves that come from the spinal cord. (x)
- Capsular Contracture
Foreign objects in the body, such as breast implants, usually cause reactions from the body itself, isolating these objects with scar tissue barriers. In some patients, this scar tissue will squeeze implants to a point where they deform. It can cause pain sometimes. The Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery reports even though surgical and quality techniques have improved, there are still patients who have to confront potential complications such as capsular contracture. (x)
Swelling, pain, and redness around the implant can develop after surgery, even after many years, at intervals of 2 to 10 years. (x) One study summarizes bilateral (effective both sides) spontaneous swelling occurs (x)
- Fluid Collection
After some time, fluid may build up around implants, leading to severe complications if left untreated — bacteria can grow in this fluid. Though infections occur more often from breast reconstruction and subsequent implantation, breast augmentation has a risk factor of bacterial infection in the liquid. (x)
- Skin Necrosis
Dead skin can form around breast implants, particularly with silicone injections. (x) The health concern happens, and if you plan to get a breast augmentation, it’s essential to talk to your physician and study the facts. (x) Antibiotics and Vaseline gauze dressings are a couple of suggested treatments. (x)
Below are other common signs of breast implant illness:
- Change in breast color or shape
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Cognitive impairment
- Thinning of the breast tissue
- Slow wound healing
- Nipple discharge
- Blood clots
Dangers Associated with Breast Implants
If you undergo breast augmentation or reconstructive surgery, be aware of the dangers associated with this medical treatment. The more educated you are about the process, the more you can confront the potential problems related to this medical specialty. Some possible health concerns include:
- Breast Implant Rupture
Saline-filled and silicone implants can rupture, leaking salt-water or silicone solution, which the body absorbs. The absorption of these materials adversely affects your body. Bacteria can grow in the implant solutions, causing other serious problems.
A change in breast shape and pain in and around the breast are the first signs of an implant rupture. If you have implants and notice these signs, talk to your doctor right away to get an MRI for diagnosis and treatment. (x)
- Increased Cancer Risk
Studies have suggested that women with breast implants have an increased risk of leukemia and cancers of the vulva, brain and stomach. Breast implants can stimulate the immune system to fight silicone in the body, which can cause an inflammatory response. (x)
- Connective Tissue Disease
In 2001, the Journal of Rheumatology published a study that showed women who had experienced implant ruptures were likely to develop fibromyalgia, soft tissue pain syndrome, (x) from silicone leaking into scar tissue surrounding their ruptured implants. (x)
- Calcium Deposit Formation
- Seroma Formation and Infection
Fluid buildup around implants may lead to pain, swelling, bruising, and seromas (pockets of clear fluid). If not treated right away, seromas may require surgical draining. Bacteria and fungi in surgical wounds can cause infection. If antifungal and antibiotic medications fail, surgeons will need to remove implants in or adjacent to infected tissue (x).
- Additional Surgeries
Breast implants aren’t permanent and need to be replaced every ten years or so. Replacements are expensive and painful. (x)
Treatments for Breast Implant Illness
Treating breast implant illness depends solely on symptoms, and making the right diagnosis depends on the doctor and patient. Doctors give antibiotics to treat infections, but in severe cases, when antibiotic medications fail, surgery is needed to remove implants adjacent to infected tissue. Patients with serious autoimmune disorders are more likely to need additional surgeries to remove implants to relieve pain and other symptoms. (x)
An explant is the surgical removal of an implant, needed in many cases to alleviate complications from breast implant illness. Your body needs at least a month to recover from an explant (x).
How to Prevent Breast Implant Illness
Although getting breast implants has its risks, many still get them, and many doctors and surgeons consider them safe. If you’re thinking about getting them, make sure you understand all associated risks to avoid infection and any autoimmune complications, and any other harm overlooked in this article. Talk to your physician about the potential difficulties and dangers.
Keep a close eye on your breasts after your procedure and also follow your surgeon’s instructions. Book an appointment with your doctor right away if you see or feel changes in your breasts. Below are some ways to help prevent the onset of breast implant illness:
- Keep Your Gut Healthy
Some women have had toxicity issues from breast implants, likely from poor digestion or bowel problems such as leaky gut or inflammation. To avoid complications from the infection, keep your gut as healthy as possible. Try cutting foods that contribute to inflammation and allergies out of your diet — foods that contain dairy, gluten, or grains (x).
- Supplements to Treat Breast Implant Illness
Some breast implants may contain metals dangerous to the human body (x). Before trying any new supplement, make sure you talk about it with your physician. To detoxify, you may want to try any of the following supplements:
- Glutathione Reduced Powder
It contains the amino acids glycine, glutamine and cysteine. If you want to detox your body after getting breast implants, you may want to try a glutathione supplement. Take small amounts at first, and slowly increase your dose.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a vital role in the body’s immune system. One study, published in Clinical Rheumatology, found that some women with silicone breast implants were vitamin D deficient (x). You may want to supplement vitamin D to help support your body’s immune system during and after implantation.
Other supplements you may want to consider taking include: (x)
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The Bottom Line
Medical professionals give the term breast implant illness to several women’s symptoms and complications after getting breast implants. Common signs you may experience include pains and aches in various parts of the body, fatigue, and redness or swelling around implants. Medical professionals often attribute silicone in the body to breast implant illness.
Breast implants may tempt you, but they don’t come without risks. Even the FDA says there are risks. Some medical professionals have even associated breast implants with cancer. For example, in severe cases — to combat infection — patients will need an explant to remove their implants. Detoxifying the body with supplements may be an ideal way to defeat breast implant illness.
The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.