This is Part 2 in a series regarding the dangers of Breast Implants now referred to as Breast Implant Illness, or BII. Read Part 1: How I got Here.
No matter which implant you have chosen, your body feels “dis-ease” as soon as the plastic surgeon “installs” them. Breast implants are comprised of 40+ chemicals including some heavy metals.
The body cannot be in a state of ease because the immune system is activated and always firing. It is trying to make sense of the foreign objects that have now invaded the host.
Implants change the environment around them. Think of when you toss a pebble into a pond. You immediately see a ripple effect radiating out.
The same affect happens with implants. This is consistent with the integrative health model – one thing affects everything else.
The ripple causes changes in most body systems. These include changes to the immune, hormone (including thyroid), detoxification, digestion, energy and neurological systems.
What is Breast Implant Illness?
Breast implant illness stems from the body trying to protect itself from foreign invaders (implants), chemicals therein and the all out war that ensues.
Over time, the immune system goes haywire after constantly deploying its soldiers to keep the foreign objects from impinging upon vital organs and glands nearby. And can even affect systems that are not nearby.
It has been documented that implants not only leak their chemicals within the chest cavity, but also outside the chest cavity into other parts of the body even if no leak is detected.
Over time, the immune system begins to burn out resulting in immune deficits and dysfunction. The body then attacks itself and autoimmune symptoms and diseases may appear.
Inflammation runs rampant and is well known as the cause of the majority of disease processes. Systemic inflammation perpetuates a downward spiral of any and all body systems, leaving the host feeling sick and sometimes debilitated.
Green Light from the FDA and Medical Community
Breast implants are classified as “medical devices.” The FDA approves installation of breast implants for women who want to repair a developmental defect, augment, reconstruct after breast cancer or another medical condition, trauma, or to fix a previously botched implant surgery.
My implant surgeon advised me the silicon implants he was going to “install” were safe. In fact, I was part of a study run by Mentor, the manufacturer of my silicone implants. They were collecting data on how women fared with the implants over several years. I did not return to this surgeon beyond one year post surgery and I do not know the results of that study. What I do know is my surgeon, just like other plastic surgeons, doctors, and others in the medical community, touted implants as safe and most still do.
What are the Symptoms of BII?
Common symptoms of breast implant illness start early for many women, either right away or within months of the initial surgery.
My breast implants were in for 14 years. During that time, I experienced many of the common symptoms of breast implant illness with no idea that they were related to the implants.
Keep in mind that symptoms vary, depending on a woman’s health before implant surgery, personal makeup, the type of implants “installed” and the progression of illness.
BII can present in numerous and not necessarily predictable ways. The common symptoms include:
- Muscle aches and joint pain, including arthritis
- Fatigue/low energy
- Cognitive deficits identified as memory loss and brain fog
- Sinus problems
- Hair loss and dryness throughout the body
- Recurring infections
- Gastrointestinal and digestive issues often referred to as IBS
- New onset allergies or new food and chemical sensitivities
- New-onset dizziness. (According to Dr. Kolb, 82% of women will leaking silicone implants experience dizziness.)
- See a more exhaustive list of symptoms of BII here.
As the most common cosmetic surgery procedure, with more than 300,000 breast augmentations performed in the United States each year for both reconstructive and cosmetic reasons, this is an issue that is impacting a significant number of, largely uninformed and unsuspecting, women. Dr. Kolb
What You Need to Know
- Symptoms are not usually attributed to breast implant illness because medical doctors, including plastic surgeons, are not making these associations.
- Women who feel very ill, are often told there is nothing wrong with them because blood tests come back in normal ranges. They are suffering silently.
- Oftentimes the symptoms are far removed from the actual cause. When silicone leaks out of the implant and into systemic circulation, it often goes undetected unless you look for it with an MRI. The FDA recommends MRI screening every 2-3 years for women with implants to see if silicone has leaked out. However, few women have this assessment because doctors do not routinely order MRI’s for breast implants. In fact, insurance does not cover this test routinely since it is not part of the protocol for breast cancer screening, as are mammograms.
- Many prior healthy women present with multiple health ailments such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Connective Tissue Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Depression, and various autoimmune diseases.
Dis-Ease Sets In when the Body is not in a State of Ease
As previously stated, you cannot drop two foreign objects into the chest cavity and expect the body not to notice. Here is some of the fallout reported when the immune system is on overdrive and having a domino effect on other body systems:
- The surrounding tissues are affected and calcification begins. These calcium deposits can be mistaken for cancer during mammography, resulting in additional surgery.
- Capsules form around the implants as a protective mechanism.
- Capsular contraction is when scar tissue forms around and squeezes the implants.
- Breast pain.
- Changes in nipple and breast sensation.
- Breast tissue atrophy/chest wall deformity.
- Thyroid and adenal issues.
- Chemicals and heavy metals in the implants and shells cause varying reactions based on the patient’s physiological makeup.
- Endocrine disruption.
- Potential harm to the reproductive system and effects on offspring.
- Platinum is found in the breast milk of women with implants.
- Leaky gut.
- Digestive and Gastrointestinal disturbances (dysbiosis, leaky gut, malabsorbtion, food sensitivities and intolerances.)
- Possible re-activation of dormant viruses including Epstein-Barr (ever had mono?) and pathogens that cause Lyme disease.
- Mold contamination.
- Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a type of non-Hodgekin’s lymphoma.
- Many women can no longer work due to debilitation.
- Women have committed suicide because they feel hopeless.
- Women have died from the toxic effects of implants.
Removing Implants, Ruptured and Leaking or Not, May Save Your Life
Despite eating healthy, being active, and taking care of herself, no matter what a woman tries to do to get better, her body can shut down. Detoxification halts. The body is a toxic soup.
If you are a woman experiencing ill health and have implants, explant surgery is the first big step on the road to recovery.
Post surgery patients are typically up and about within one week.
After explanting, I knew I needed patience to get healthier. Removing the main culprits was the first step.
I then worked on boosting my body’s natural ability to heal itself. I made lifestyle changes in the areas of diet, rest, exercise, supplementation and stress reduction.
Next week we will discuss what you can do to prepare for explant, how to find a doctor, and how to detox after your breast implants are removed.