By Dr. Daniel Lee

Breast implant illness (BII) is a trending topic in the world of cosmetic and plastic surgery over the last few years.  There is a strong online discussion on many forums, where women share their experience with adverse health consequences after having breast implants.  The symptoms include: fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, headaches, rashes, and others develop after breast implants have been placed.  The symptoms mirror those of autoimmune and connective tissue diseases (Sjogren’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, and others).

How common is it? 

It’s important to mention that it is NOT common for women to experience these symptoms after a breast augmentation.  It is seen in less than 1% of all women who have had breast augmentation.  However, women can definitely experience these symptoms and their surgeons should listen to them and not ignore their concerns.  

What causes it?

The cause appears to be due to inflammation from the implants.  A women’s own body produces an inflammatory process triggered by the implant.  The inflammation then causes symptoms like joint pain, rash, headache, etc. 

Can it be diagnosed?

Unfortunately, there is not a specific diagnostic test for BII.  There are specific tests for autoimmune diseases that have similar symptoms.  However, Dr. Lee has women who have negative tests but still see improvement in their symptoms with implant removal. 

Who is at more risk?

Although there still needs to be better studies done, research has shown that women with autoimmune diseases have a higher chance of developing these symptoms after implants are placed.  Dr. Lee feels that any woman that is being treated for an autoimmune disease, should be cautious about having implants placed.  Many of these autoimmune processes can worsen with or without implants.  If you have implants in, then how would you know if worsening symptoms are because of your implants or because of the autoimmune disease or both.  

How is BII treated?

Currently, the only treatment option is to remove the implants.  Dr. Lee performs this surgery commonly at New Life Cosmetic Surgery.  The breast explant surgery is where the implants are removed through the same incision that was used to place the implants.  The capsule around the implant is also often removed, especially if there are signs of capsular inflammation. Then depending on where the nipple is located, some women will also have a breast lift performed to raise the nipple/areola.  The recovery process is short.  Most patients will be able to return to work within a few days.  In Dr. Lee’s experience, the majority of patients that have the explant surgery do see an improvement with their symptoms.  However, it is often not immediate.  It can take up to a year for the symptoms to have noticeably improved.  

How do I schedule a consultation?

Call New Life Cosmetic Surgery at 956-969-8369.

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