Are breast implants safe? That is the question, and depending who you ask, you will receive different answers.
Approximately 400, 000 women get breast implants each year. Of these women, 75% choose this surgery for aesthetic reasons, 25% for reconstruction as a result of breast cancer.
The FDA states that all breast implants sold in the United States (saline, gel, silicone) are safe and approved. However, as of recently, the FDA has had to include new labeling recommendations, boxed warning labels and has updated their guidelines. In the past few years, the FDA has obtained additional information linking breast implants with a type of blood cancer known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
In addition, thousands of women have joined together, primarily through social media groups and media coverage, and identified a syndrome of symptoms they all share, which they have coined Breast Implant Illness. Groups that years ago consisted of a few hundred women have now grown to hundreds of thousands as women have connected the dots regarding their strange list of symptoms and their breast implants.
Breast implant illness (BII) refers to a wide range of symptoms that some women with breast implants experience. It is also referred to as ASIA, Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants. All types of breast implants may cause these symptoms.
BII affects every woman differently. Here is a list of BII/ASIA symptoms:
- joint and muscle pain
- chronic fatigue
- memory issues and cognitive decline
- respiratory issues/air hunger
- acne/psoriasis/rashes/inflamed skin
- dry mouth/chronic thirst/dry eyes
- anxiety/depression/mood swings
- hair loss
- digestive issues/leaky gut
- chronic yeast infections/urinary tract infections
- low-grade fever
- thyroid abnormalities
- weight gain/weight loss
- rapid aging
- chronic, debilitating fatigue
- heart palpitation
- pain/swelling in breasts
- chemical and food sensitivities
- low libido
- slow/poor healing wounds
- chronic infections
- hormone imbalance
- burning/nerve pain/neuropathy
- night sweats
As you can see from the above list, the symptoms affect multiple systems. So, what is actually causing this to happen?
It is believed that breast implants are invaders that cause immune system dysregulation, which may lead to chronic inflammation as a result of a foreign object in the body coupled with toxicity. All breast implants have an outer casing that is made of silicone. All breast implants also contain over 40 toxic chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors, carcinogens and neurotoxins. Saline breast implants may grow mold and various pathogenic bacterial strains in the saline solution that may further disrupt the immune system and other systems. In addition, all implants create biofilms that promote further inflammatory response.
Although there are no definitive tests for Breast Implant Illness or clinical studies to best understand who is affected, it is believed that one’s genetics play a role along with other factors. Those with genetic mutations, such as MTHFR and pre-existing autoimmune disease or methylation issues are more likely to experience Breast Implant Illness. Frequent mammograms and trauma, length of time with breast implants, number of surgeries/breast implant replacements also are influencers.
Most women experience symptoms gradually, but issues may start immediately after breast augmentation. Many women will seek answers by visiting physicians and specialists, who may diagnose them with an autoimmune disease or connective tissue disorder. Some might be told they have mitochondrial dysfunction or Lyme disease or mast cell activation disorder. They may be told they have fibromyalgia, Lupus, Hashimoto’s, Reynaud’s Syndrome, MS and many other chronic diseases. Others are simply dismissed with a handful of prescriptions to alleviate symptoms.
Because the symptoms mirror a slew of other illnesses, women are often misdiagnosed by primary care physicians and other specialists. Women also don’t connect their systemic symptoms with their breast implants, and therefore, seek help in the medical system from physicians who also don’t have the training to connect the dots. Instead, most western medicine physicians will simply chase symptoms and try to manage the with pharmaceuticals, which adds to the toxic load. This leads to years, even decades of unmanaged toxicity that may cause irreparable damage to multiple systems.
Breast Implant Illness is also considered an invisible illness because the patient will look completely healthy but feel absolutely awful. This is another disconnect that alienates women in the medical system as well as from friends and family. Often, their symptoms are dismissed. They might hear, “You don’t look sick” or “It’s all in your head” and given anti-depressants as a solution to quell the anxiety and hypochondria. It’s not shocking to note that women with breast implants are three times more likely to commit suicide, according to research.
According to a retrospective analysis examining 750 patients who had their breast implants and scar capsules removed, a significant improvement in 11 common symptoms was experienced within 30 days post op. These included joint pain, breast pain, hair loss, memory issues, respiratory issues and skin rashes. So, there is hope!
Medical tests may show some anomalies, but others might look completely normal. BII is not currently recognized as an official medical diagnosis, and there is no diagnosis code for it. Simply put, there is no diagnostic tool for Breast Implant Illness, and our medical system still believes breast implants are safe and do not cause systemic illness.
For this reason, it’s important to document your symptoms, both personally and through the FDA’s system. Keep track of your symptoms and seek help from an explant surgeon.
If you have symptoms of breast implant illness, please report them to the FDA through the MedWatch Online Voluntary Reporting Form.
Treatment is called explant, and it involves the removal of your breast implants along with the surrounding scar tissue, known as the scar capsule. Replacing implants with new ones will not cure Breast Implant Illness. The medical term for this procedure of removing the breast implants and the scar capsule is called en bloc. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will not cover the cost of this surgery, even though it usually costs double that of a breast augmentation procedure and is necessary for recovery.
Not every plastic surgeon is skilled at performing an enbloc procedure. It’s important to find a plastic surgeon who will properly remove the scar capsule along with the breast implants, since colonies of bacteria, silicone and other toxic chemicals may exist within this capsule and continue to wreak havoc on multiple systems if they aren’t removed.
Following surgery, it can take up to two years to fully detox the body and recover, although many women experience an alleviation of multiple symptoms right away.
A detox protocol to help the body recover from Breast Implant Illness involves multiple systems. It’s important to address gut issues which may require layers of detoxification due to co-infections, Leaky Gut Syndrome, gut dysbiosis and inflammation and nutritional malabsorption.
Our Leaky Gut Defense is a good place to start. The natural ingredients can help tackle these issues and help revitalize the gut mucosa to create an optimal environment for replenishing a healthy microbiome.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a beneficial yeast that may help with systemic candida overgrowth, which is common with Breast Implant Illness. Studies have demonstrated that Saccharomyces boulardii has also demonstrated the ability to destroy biofilms due to its capric acid content.
Supporting the liver is important when detoxifying the system. The liver is the body’s most essential detox organ. When the body has reached toxic overload, the liver becomes sluggish and unable to manage its multiple roles. Supporting the liver with herbs such as milk thistle helps protect it from further damage caused by toxins. Our Liposomal Liver Detox + also contains co factors and nutrients vital for glutathione upregulation.
Glutathione is the master anti-oxidant, and when the body is faced with chronic illness and toxins, our natural stores of glutathione are depleted. This means that toxins further accumulate in the body and can’t be properly removed through detox pathways, such as the liver and kidney. Glutathione is important in detoxing heavy metals, chemicals mold, microorganisms and other pathogens that are common with Breast Implant Illness.
Our Glutathione GOLD is in s-acetyl form, meaning that it survives stomach acids for greater absorption via the small intestine. S-acetyl glutathione is almost as efficacious as IV glutathione at a fraction of the cost.
With any supplement regimen, it always important to begin low and slow and introduce one supplement at a time. This will help reduce the potential for detox symptoms.
Healing from Breast Implant Illness is definitely a journey that might feel like a roller coaster. Be patient. You might feel worse before you get better, which is simply part of the detoxification and healing process. It won’t be a straight line toward wellness once your implants are removed. Detoxing is a wild ride and requires diligence, quality supplements, lifestyle changes and positivity to get to the lighter side!