Breast implant illness is not a medically recognized condition. It is a term to describe a grouping of symptoms that occur after someone undergoes breast implantation surgery.
Previously breast implant illness was only thought to be able to be gotten with only silicone implants, more research has shown that this illness can happen with any implant, silicone gel-filled, saline-filled, smooth surface, textured surface, round, or tear drop shaped. Silicone breast implants still show a higher risk of linking to other autoimmune disorders. These could include rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, sarcoidosis, or lupus. There is still not much research on breast implant illness.
There are a lot of different symptoms that can occur with breast implant illness. Symptoms can either occur quickly after surgery, or develop overtime.
Symptoms can include skin changes such as rashes, or eczema. Disturbance in sleep, headaches, dizziness or migraines are also symptoms. Joint or muscle pain is a very common symptom of breast implant illness. Hormonal imbalances can also occur causing weight changes, hair loss, anxiety or depression. Breast changes such as redness, swelling, pain, change in shape, or discharge.
Other symptoms are chronic fatigue, breathing problems, memory or concentration problems, dry mouth, dry eyes, GI problems, chronic inflammatory symptoms, and food intolerances or allergies.
Some people with breast implant illness tend to have a weakened immune system as well causing them to get cold, or flu like symptoms often.
Complications – Cancer
Breast implant illness also can lead to a type of breast implant cancer. It is a T cell lymphoma that occurs in the scar tissue where the implant was placed. This cancer can be diagnosed using an ultrasound. Usually it can be caught early enough that with a removal of the implant along with all the scar tissue capsules, it can get rid of all the cancer.
It is unsure of what causes some people to react to their implants in such a negative way. It may have something to do with an inflammatory response from the body to a foreign object. Another cause may be the body’s reaction to the specific components that the implant is made out of. Or it could be caused by the body’s response to the insertion and surgical technique. There is not much information still on what could be the cause.
It has been shown that people with a family or personal history of autoimmune conditions such as allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia may have a higher risk of also developing breast implant illness.
Since this is not a medically recognized condition there is no real diagnosis. Sometimes patients end up going through multiple doctors trying to find the source of their symptoms before connecting their symptoms to their implants.
A plastic surgeon will be able to remove the implants to help with symptoms. Symptoms usually go away after implants have been removed, though in some cases symptoms continue. This has shown in cases that aren’t found out soon, and the person has a higher risk of developing an autoimmune disorder. This can be due to the fact that their body has developed the disorder meaning to subside symptoms they will need treatment for the disorder as well as removal of the implants.
Sometimes people will opt to change their implants out for other ones that are made from other material. This does not always work, if you are predisposed to getting breast implant syndrome the likelihood of your symptoms coming back with a different implant is greater. Usually people with these symptoms start trying to find help from them when more than one of the above symptoms becomes to the point where they are affecting daily function in a person’s life.
Breast implants are relatively safe, where there is about a 1% chance of a normal complication to occur, such as delayed healing, breast pain, or swelling. Currently research is showing that it is about every 1 in 2000 women who undergo breast implantation surgery end up with breast implant illness. Research is continuing to be done to see what the link between the implants and these symptoms are to see what can be done in the future.
Sometimes patients end up going through multiple doctors trying to find the source of their symptoms before connecting their symptoms to their implants.