Breast augmentation can significantly enhance a woman’s figure and provide a boost in self-confidence. Unfortunately, sometimes adverse side effects can develop, including symptoms that sometimes seem correlated with the implants, known as breast implant illness.
Breast Implant Illness symptoms may include any combination of:
- Brain fog or inability to focus
- Chest pain
- Chronic pain
- Disrupted sleeping patterns
- Hair loss
- Hormonal imbalances
- Neurological issues
- Unusual body odor
Are These Symptoms Connected to Breast Augmentation?
Whether or not the side effects listed above are directly related to saline or silicone implants with textured or smooth surfaces is inconclusive and has not been scientifically proven. The use of social media seems to have increased reports of breast implant illness. There is not an official diagnosis for breast implant illness at this time.
Silicone has been used for breast augmentation for many years and has not been medically proven to cause any form of disease. Medical grade silicone goes through rigorous testing that purifies the components to rid them of antioxidants, dyes, and plasticizers to ensure safe implantation. Saline implants are filled with a sterile saltwater solution that is naturally absorbed by the body in the event of a rupture or leak.
The Institute of Medicine Committee on the Safety of Silicone conducted a review in 1999 to test the safety of breast implants. They concluded that there is no demonstrated link between systemic illness and silicone implants, and further studies by other parties have ended in similar results.
Can Removing the Implants Reduce or Eliminate the Symptoms?
At this time, there is no definitive evidence to support a direct link between explantation and the reduction of reported symptoms. Implant and capsule removal has helped some patients, while others remain with lingering issues or symptoms that recur after removal.
ASAPS and ASERF are gathering data and developing scientific studies to examine breast implant illness, despite the current evidence pointing towards there being no connection. As tests are created and more patients are coming forward with self-identified breast implant illness, it can help further research and lead us towards a more definitive answer.
It is up to the individual and their surgeon to decide what action should be taken if abnormal symptoms emerge. The surgeon may recommend medical work, observation, implant removal with or without capsulectomy (the complete removal of the capsular pocket that contains the implants), implant exchange with or without capsulectomy, or an en bloc (complete removal of the entire breast capsule while still intact).
Am I at Risk of Developing Breast Implant Illness?
Because there is no certain connection between symptoms and breast implants, and no available testing to lead to a diagnosis, there is no way, as yet, to measure the risks involved. The symptoms experienced by patients can be linked to a myriad of different health issues.
Some confirmed risks can include an accumulation of fluid around the breast, or a seroma, and a rare form of lymphoma known as Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Your surgeon can discuss these risks with you during your consultation.