Breast implant illness (BII) is a complicated and controversial topic. The vast majority of women after breast augmentation are happy and healthy. But this is not the case for some people. Some women develop medical problems that are termed breast Implant Illness (BII). This educational writing is a guide to help you in a difficult situation. Ultimately, the decision to remove the implants will be yours but with my guidance or other physicians.
It is very worrisome to women that are experiencing problems or symptoms that can be attributed to breast implants and or silicone. The issues can include fatigue, weakness, brain fog, numbness, muscle aches, tingling, pain, joint problems, weight loss, and other medical concerns. It’s controversial however, because the FDA and most doctors will say that breast implants are safe and do not cause these problems. They will say that the implant studies are extensive and show safety over multiple decades. The FDA will report the medical issues are not from the implants but something else. But, is this actually the case? Some doctors say that it is not completely proven 100%.
The doctors that specialize in this type of medical concerns are called rheumatologists. These doctors specialize in auto-immune diseases and other illnesses. These conditions are rare and difficult to diagnose. If I have a patient with these types of concerns, I believe it is mandatory to see a rheumatologist. They could discover something that can be treated. The patient might have lymes disease, lupus, or chronic fatigue. Laboratory studies can be done that help in diagnosis and treatment. These include blood studies for high anti-nuclear antibodies. There are treatments for these problems that can be very successful. It might help someone get better and not have to remove their implants. The rheumatologist is the expert on these problems. I believe all patients with concerns of BII should see one of these doctors.
If the studies and work up come up empty and with nothing, then the patient might decide she wants implant removal. I am an explant surgeon and specialize in this operation. I work diligently and closely with the patient to help her with her choices. If we decide to perform explant with or with out capsulectomy, I will do the operation meticulously and delicately to remove ever drop of implant and scar tissue. I perform a large number of these operations regularly. I also perform the en bloc capsulectomy operation. I am a board certified plastic surgeon and specialize in breast surgery. This includes performing breast augmentation for those who want it. But if you decide that explantation is for you, I am an expert at this surgery and the care that are required to help you get better.
My Personal Story:
I understand that decisions on implants and health concerns are often made not just on facts but also on feelings. I have a personal story that helped me to relate to women who want to have explant surgery or who have BII. I have had several episodes in my life where I suffered from unusual feelings of what I called brain fog. I just didn’t feel normal. I felt foggy in the head like I was tired, but I wasn’t. It also went on for about 6 months. It then went away or resolved, but it came back for another even longer period of time. It happened over three separate time periods. During this time I could read, concentrate, and think clearly. I could operate normally, and I exercised regularly. I just felt “off” in my head, that felt like a fog. I thought I might have some disease or Multiple Slerosis.
I decided to go to a specialist to get help. I saw two excellent doctors. One was a neurologist and one was a rheumatologist. I had a lot of studies done to me, including tons of labs and an MRI. The good news was all my tests were normal. The bad news was I still had my fog and there wasn’t anything to do. Fortunately, my problem resolved on its own. Then it came back again, only to again go away a third time. I luckily haven’t had it for over 10 years.
During this period of time, I started to think that a body oil I used might be causing my problems. The oil was from Bed, Bath and Beyound. I used the body oil daily for skin care and for bathing. The doctor inside me or medical side of my brain said that the oil was not the problem. I would tell myself that it couldn’t be. It was sold in a reputable store, and it was a clean and healthy product. It was safe, just like the FDA says implants are safe. But something else inside me said that maybe it was causing the problems I was having. Something inside me said maybe the oil was accumulating in my system and causing my symptoms. So to make a long story short, I stopped using the oil, and I feel much better. Science is important, but there are intangible things in life that are factors as well.
My personal story helps me relate to women with breast implant illness. Although science and the FDA might have studies that implants cause no BII problems, I understand that sometimes it might just be necessary to proceed with removal or explant for other factors. If a women is having medical concerns and problems that are not being diagnosed and are being damaging to her health, the decision to remove the implants might be the best choice that she can make.
I think of my job as being a surgeon to help you. I might help women look younger with a facelift. I might help them look thinner with a tummy tuck or liposuction. But I might also help them heal by removing their implants. If a women feels she needs them out, I will do the explant surgery in the most meticulous and skilled way to help her get better. That’s my job. To help you. Sometimes it is removing an implant.