Today’s world is full of synthetic everything. Food, drugs, beauty products, house cleaning products and everything in between. Humans are turning more synthetic as the days pass on. Fake eyelashes, hair dye, botox, lip fillers, Brazilian butt lifts, tummy tucks, liposuction and synthetic breasts are a common finding everywhere you turn. As of 2019, the beauty industry was a bustling $532 billion dollar Industry.
Many women (and men), go into major cosmetic procedures not understanding long term implications and dangers of their surgery. Breast implant illness (BII) has been on the rise over the years as more than 300,000 US women have implants placed each year. There is a facebook group called, “Breast Implant Illness and Healing” that has over 145k members. I’ve seen many cases of BII in my clinic and it is something women wish they would have known about before they went under the knife.
Dr. Susan Kolb, author of “The Naked Truth About Breast Implants” said, “My experience in doing this for thirty years is that eventually everybody will become ill from their breast implants, unless they die sooner from something else.”
Breast implants date back to the 1880’s. In the 1900’s various materials were placed in the breasts – rubber, foam, sponges, ivory and even glass! In the 1950’s, silicone was injected freely into the breast cavity but caused major complications resulting in mastectomies. In the 1960’s the first shell based silicone implants were used (at the same time in French literature, there were saline implants being studied and utilized). Since the first implant, there have been over 240 styles and 8,300 models of silicone breast implants.
The bodies immune system tries to regulate itself to stay in homeostasis. When there is a foreign invader, specialized cells rush to the area to remove the pathogen and keep its human host healthy. When there’s a foreign object like a breast implant, the body tags it as foreign and microinflammation occurs around the area while the body tries to remove it. Sometimes mold, yeast, bacteria and other pathogens harbor in the area causing infection on top of inflammation and autoimmunity.
Symptoms of BII include:
- autoimmune disease – lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, thyroid disease and more
- joint and muscle pain
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- chronic fatigue
- memory and concentration problems
- breathing problems + chronic recurrent sinusitis
- sleep disturbance
- rashes and skin problems
- dry mouth and dry eyes
- anxiety + depression
- hair loss
- chronic infections
- gastrointestinal problems
Outcomes after implant removal:
According to www.breastcancer.org, a small study of 100 patients with self-reported BII, showed that 89% of patients who had implant removal and capsulectomy experienced improvement in some of their symptoms within 3 months of surgery. Another small study of 80 participants from the Netherlands found 69% reduction in autoimmune symptoms after implant removal surgery.
What to do if you suspect BII?
I suggest working with a functional medicine provider to find the root cause of your symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and they are affecting your daily living, it is a good idea to remove breast implants to decrease overall toxic burden in your body, even if they may not be the root cause.
After working with many women during this process, my advice is to find someone that specializes in EXPLANT surgery. These surgeons are trained to remove the full silicone (or saline) capsule. It is important for the capsule to be completely removed with the implant so that foreign tissue doesn’t continue to irritate the body and produce an immune response.
Healing after BII:
Just like an autoimmune disease, cancer or other chronic illness, healing takes time and effort. Helping your body detox is essential in the repair process. Working with a specialist to get a plan together that is right for your body will be important. Always work at cleaning up your diet (avoid processed foods, decrease sugar and alcohol consumption). Open your detox pathways by having one or more bowel movements a day (use magnesium or vitamin C if you need help with this). Use detox therapies like sauna, cryotherapy, lymph massage, epsom baths, etc. And, working with a counselor to talk about any body dysmorphia issues or mental health concerns that you have.
BII is more common than I once imagined. Being aware of the pros and cons of any cosmetic procedure is really important. At the end of the day, you should always get to choose what goes in, on and around your body. That choice should not be taken lightly and should be done after your personal research is completed. I always tell my patients, “you know your body best, don’t trust me, trust yourself. I’m here to guide you but not tell you what to do”. Empowering people to make decisions best for their body is my number one goal. I hope you found this helpful.
Stephanie, ARNP, FNP-C
Vive IV Therapy + Balance Integrative Health & Wellness