Breast Implant Illness…A Modern Disease
The most common cosmetic surgery procedure in the United States is breast augmentation with either silicone or saline implants. According to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons, an estimated 1.7 million breast implant surgeries were performed in the U.S. between 2011 and 2016 for both reconstructive and cosmetic reasons. This is becoming an issue that is impacting a significant number of largely uninformed and unsuspecting women. What these women aren’t told or don’t realize, is that it is not a question of IF their implants will make them sick, but WHEN their implants will make them sick. Many were told that their implants were safe and would last a lifetime, which is certainly not the case, as the typical “shelf life” of implants is 8-10 years at most, at which point they begin to lose their integrity inside the chest wall, become incompetent, and begin to leak harmful substances into the body (Kolb, S., 2010).
Silicone breast implants were first introduced into the market in the early 1960s and most believed silicone to be a biologically inert substance. However, over the course a few decades of trial and error, and many, many lawsuits filed against the companies producing the silicone implants, they were removed from the market in the 1990’s due to the health problems they were causing in thousands of women from systemic silicone toxicity. Saline implants were then believed to be the safer version, until they stared seeing some of the same issues in these women as well. The saline implants still had the silicone shell but were thought that if they leaked, it would only be inert saline released into the body. What was being seen upon removal of the saline implants, was severe bacterial, mold or fungal growth inside the implants that were slowly leaking into the body and causing systemic problems. Then in 2006, the FDA decided to allow the “new and improved” silicone gel implants back into the marketplace where they have been destined to repeat the same horrific history or their predecessors (Kolb, 2010).
Breast implant illness is a modern disorder that affects the body caused by silicone or saline breast implants. Symptoms of breast implant illness vary from body to body depending on the type of breast implants and the progression of the illness, however, it appears that a few symptoms show up a little earlier and more consistently such as fatigue/low energy, cognitive dysfunction (brain fog, memory loss), headaches, joint and muscle pain, hair loss, recurring infections, swollen lymph nodes and swollen glands, rashes, IBS, problems with thyroid and adrenals. Because breast implants can affect most body systems, symptoms are widespread and can be related to toxicity, biotoxicity, immune dysfunction/failure, auto-immune diseases, neurological symptoms, endocrine symptoms and metabolic symptoms. Any time you introduce a foreign material into your body, there is potential for problems to develop. Breast implants are no different, and issues can arise from both silicone and saline implants due to both the materials used and the potential for bacteria and fungus to proliferate and produce biotoxins. In addition, implants which are made of silicone are a blend of dangerous toxins and heavy metals that when implanted in the body begin breaking down and circulating particulates of not only silicone but also neurotoxic, cytotoxic, carcinogenic chemicals and toxic heavy metals that circulate throughout the body’s tissues and organs. Simply put silicone is a biologically active and toxic substance that causes biotoxins and systemically poisons and impairs many functions of the body. It makes no difference whether implants are cohesive gel, saline with a silicone shell or silicone. In fact, the cohesive gel implants seem to be the worst implants because they contain more aggressive chemicals used in making the silicone cohesive. Saline were once deemed the safe implant, however due to valve ports and faulty valves they become colonized with mold and fungus which produces harmful biotoxins. No matter the implant type, all breast implants impair the immune system and the silicone shell deteriorates releasing toxins and allowing colonization and the filling whether cohesive gel, saline or gel silicone permeates the shell contaminating our body. According to several studies, most implants deteriorate and or rupture within six to eight years but sooner in many cases (Kolb, 2010). This can happen from traumas like car accidents or even the recommended mammogram procedure. And many women begin to feel the effects of this shortly after the rupture has occurred.
So what can be done once the silicone gel or saline has leaked out of the implant either as a result of the lipolysis reaction, which is the body’s attempt to break down the implant which weakens the shell and allows the contents to slowly leak out, or by an actual rupture of the implant? First and foremost is to have the explant surgery performed by a surgeon who has completed a significant amount of difficult explant surgeries and who also acknowledges the relationship between implants and the illness these women are experiencing. Many surgeons have found it important to treat with both antibiotics as well as antifungals pre and post surgery to help treat the underlying infections. Finding a practitioner educated in breast implant illness will help to heal the body after the explant surgery by using detoxification methods, immune/gut boosting protocols. This can be done using a combination of nutritional supplements, acupuncture, herbal prescriptions, IV therapies, homeopathy, and dietary and lifestyle counseling.
Monica Sarrat is a Doctor of Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine (DACM) and has been practicing at Access Acupuncture, Inc. in Temecula, CA since 2004. She specializes in Women’s Health and Reproductive Medicine. Her passion lies in empowering women to learn to heal their bodies naturally and achieve well being in their lives.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org
Kolb, S. (2010). The Naked Truth About Breast Implants. Savage, Lone Oak Publishing.