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Is Breast Implant Illness Real?

Posted September 26, 2019 in Breast Augmentation, Breast Implants, Breast Lift, Breast Reconstruction, Breast Reduction, Plastic Surgery Advice

3 min read

Millions of women throughout the world have decided to undergo breast augmentation with silicone gel-filled implants. The safety of these implants has been a subject of years of research, which is still on-going, yet all preliminary evidence concludes that breast implants are safe for both short and long-term use.

Unfortunately, a large minority of women with breast implants have begun to notice unexplainable symptoms, and have attributed them to ‘Breast Implant Illness’ (BII). Breast Implant Illness is not an official medical diagnosis, and to date, there is no proven link between these symptoms and breast implants.

Women with her hands covering her breast over a light background.

What Is Breast Implant Illness?

These shared symptoms are similar to those of a vague autoimmune disorder called fibromyalgia, a disease that causes widespread muscle tenderness and pain. Even though it is still unproven, one theory behind Breast Implant Illness is that the silicone (both the filling and the shell of the implant) triggers an autoimmune response that causes patients to display these symptoms.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Breast Implant Illness

Women who self-identify with Breast Implant Illness experience one or more unusual or unexplainable symptoms such as::

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Chronic pain
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fevers
  • Dry eyes
  • Poor memory
  • Brain fog
  • Hair loss
  • Photosensitivity
  • Rash
  • Unusual body odor

Can Breast Implants Give You Breast Cancer?

Even among women who self-identify with Breast Implant Illness, there is zero connection between implants and breast cancer. In recent months, researchers and the FDA have released findings of a link between textured implants and ALCL (anaplastic large cell lymphoma). ALCL is a cancer of the immune system; it is not breast cancer. ALCL develops in the scar tissue around the implant, not in the breast tissue itself. This diagnosis is extremely rare, with only one in 25,000 developing the condition; and, as mentioned, it is only associated with textured implants – a type that Dr. Boyd has never used.

Unfortunately, some of the symptoms of ALCL are lumps, bumps, pain, and hardness of the breast, which are similar to those of breast cancer. A biopsy of the scar tissue will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis. ALCL is treatable when it is detected early enough.

Before and after image showing the results of a woman's breast augmentation performed by Dr. Boyd in Rolling Hills Estates, CA.

Are My Implants Safe?

Even though women have been getting breast implants for decades and widespread studies have been carried out, no one truly understands the long-term effects of implants. From what we do know, breast implants are safe, and complications are rare. Since there is no proven link between implants and Breast Implant Illness, there is no way to determine your risks.

For women who do self-identify with Breast Implant Illness, implant removal seems to remedy or at least minimize the symptoms and side effects. Breast implant revision can be performed to remove damaged or unwanted implants while maintaining an aesthetically appealing appearance.

Women with silicone implants should have their breasts examined annually by a plastic surgeon and should continue to undergo routine screening for breast cancer. MRIs can detect ruptures or damage to the implants and should be performed every two years.

If you are concerned about your implants and want to know your options, contact Dr. Boyd by calling 310.597.4734 or by filling out our online contact form.

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Dr. Boyd's office is located in Palos Verdes (Rolling Hills Estates)

550 Deep Valley Drive, Suite 283
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274