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Breast Implant Illness: How to Talk to your Doctor

Every day there are more stories in the news about Breast Implant Illness, or BII.

And while there is little scientific evidence to support a growing concern over Breast Implant Illness, or BII, nearly 100,000 women have banded together across a few Facebook pages dedicated to the support of women who have had breast implants and now fear they are having adverse affects on their bodies.

Women reported symptoms including (but not limited to):

  • Fatigue

  • Pain

  • Inflammation

  • Weight gain

  • Thyroid issue

  • Vertigo

  • Persistent infection

Rising concerns over Breast Implant Illness are causing women to flood plastic surgery offices nationwide asking for “explant” surgery; which is the surgical removal of breast implants.

Studies Regarding Breast Implant Illness are Inconclusive

In a statement released this past May by the FDA, the organization said, “While the FDA doesn’t have definitive evidence demonstrating breast implants cause these symptoms, the current evidence supports that some women experience systemic symptoms that may resolve when their breast implants are removed, referred to by some patients and health care professionals as breast implant illness. We believe women considering a breast implant should be aware of these risks.”

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is also taking notice of the increased reporting of Breast Implant Illness symptoms. In a document providing talking points for surgeons with patients who suspect they may have BII, they do provide more information about the information being reported online.

“There are many medical inaccuracies perpetuated by the internet. BII patients tend to believe that a total capsulectomy is necessary to remove all causative agents and they prefer it en bloc, oftentimes without having a full understanding of what size incision is necessary for [this procedure]…it is important to explain that it is not always possible to remove all of the capsule. Sometimes a portion of the capsule must be left behind … to prevent significant damage to muscle, rib or lung.”

If You Believe You Have BII Symptoms, Talk to Your Doctor

The ASPS recommends that their surgeons take patient reports of symptoms seriously and do their best to identify the cause of the symptoms- whether breast implants cause the symptoms or not, because the symptoms are real.

If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of Breast Implant Illness, you can use our free BII-Associated Symptom Checklist to discuss these symptoms with your doctor.

Enter your email below and the checklist will be sent to your email!

We encourage you to print the checklist and mark which symptoms were present before you had implants and which have presented after having implants. We also encourage you to make a list of any other possible contributing factors such as:

  • New Medical Conditions (including surgeries, childbirth, menopause, etc.)

  • New Medications

  • Changes in Diet

  • Changes in Lifestyle (increase or decrease in exercise, etc.)

Whether or not breast implant illness is the cause of your symptoms, it is important to listen to your body and take note of any symptoms you are experiencing. Being completely honest about all the aspects of your life will help your doctor find a solution more quickly.

The more information you have, the better prepared they will be to point you in the right direction.

Explant Surgery May Not Cure Breast Implant Illness

The ASPS does go on to say that many patients are not aware of how large an incision may be necessary to perform an en bloc capsulectomy. In addition, your surgeon may not be able to use the same surgical approach as the initial breast augmentation.

This means that if your breast augmentation surgeon used an incision under the armpit (axillary) or around the nipple (periareolar), your surgeon cannot perform the capsulectomy through those same incisions.

Possibly the most important point to note is that “we do not have enough collective data to guarantee any improvement in the symptoms they have labeled Breast Implant Illness (BII).”

One article published by the Sydney Morning Herald in March of this year points out that women who experience any of these symptoms should be taken seriously and treated appropriately, but that some surgeons are capitalizing on this niche market and overcharging for explant surgery. “These women are not idiots or drama queens. Their concerns need to be taken seriously” the article stated.

As always, it is highly recommended to seek a skilled board-certified plastic surgeon who will evaluate your symptoms and perform the necessary treatments. Please visit our post to learn about the board certification process through the ASPS and how to determine if your surgeon is board-certified.

Breast Implant Illness Explant Surgery Recovery Can Be Easier

Because of the alarming number of women concerned with BII, we have created a segment of The Chrysalis Method that is geared specifically toward women having explants due to BII concerns.

“We see the rise in the number of women looking to have their implants removed,” founder Lauren Simpson said. “Breast implant illness is very concerning and stressful for the women who are considering explant surgery. We want to get the word out that The Chrysalis Method is here to help these women recover, detox and get their lives back after their surgery. Since Chrysalis was developed to help women recover from all breast surgeries, these women deserve help just as much as women having other breast surgeries.”

The Chrysalis Method is an online, 12-week recovery program that includes:

  • Nutritional guidance

  • Movements that increase as a patient’s restrictions decrease

  • and a Crucial online support element

The forum offers women in the program the ability to seek comfort, advice and guidance from licensed professionals as well as other women who have been through the same surgery and recovery.

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