by Mila McManus, MD
Breast augmentation is a popular plastic surgery in the United States. Interestingly, in 2021, amidst the COVID lockdowns, there was a 44% increase in breast implants from the year before! Simultaneously, there was also a 32% increase in women having their implants replaced, and a 47% increase in women having their implants removed. [i]
While silicone and saline breast implantation is generally regarded as low complication risk, more women are expressing concerns in social media and with their doctors about a broad range of symptoms that are very real. More than 100 symptoms have been associated with breast implants, the most common in the constellation being chronic fatigue, brain fog, anxiety or depression, chest and breast pain, hair loss, headaches, chills, photosensitivity, rash, chronic joint and muscle pain, gastrointestinal issues, dry mouth and eyes, and weight changes.[ii] Because these symptoms are associated with other conditions, it’s important to carefully rule out causes unrelated to the breast implants.
Breast implant illness [BII], can best be described as an inflammatory response to a foreign substance in the body. There are some rare cancers associated with the implants and they can and do rupture or leak, which also adds to illness. Many women testify to the significant decline in health after receiving breast implants, and restored health following breast implant removal. The scientific community continues to conduct studies to gain further insight into these observations and complaints, but as of yet, breast implant illness is not yet a formal diagnosis. Nevertheless, if you have unexplained illness, or have chronic illness and aren’t improving with treatment, consider having your implants removed.
[ii] Gland Surgery 2021;10(1):430-443.