Jump to content

The Dark Side of Breast Augmentation

Nurses Article   (1,215 Views | 6 Replies | 779 Words)

PCU_RN9 is a MSN and specializes in Health insurance nursing/ Cardiac nursing.

3 Articles; 3,029 Profile Views; 61 Posts

Is Cosmetic Breast Implant Surgery Risky?

The purpose of cosmetic breast implant surgery is to enhance a woman's body to promote over all self-confidence. What if cosmetic breast implant surgery also caused debilitating health symptoms? Would the risk be worth it?

The Dark Side of Breast Augmentation
Share Article

Have You Heard of Breast Implant Illness?

Perhaps not, because at this time it is not an official medical diagnosis. This may change in the near future, however. Over the past several years, there has been an increase in complaints from individuals who have undergone reconstructive and cosmetic breast implant surgery. The increase in complaints may be related to awareness of the condition through communication on social media platforms. These complaints include a cluster of often unrelated and unexplained symptoms that appear autoimmune in nature. Some of the symptoms include:

  • chronic fatigue
  • myalgia/ joint pains
  • rashes and skin conditions
  • hair loss
  • neurological manifestations
  • headaches
  • breathing problems
  • depression
  • sleep disturbances

I have learned of this illness first hand from a very good friend of mine. My dear friend desired breast implants for many years believing these implants would give her more confidence and self-esteem. Unfortunately, the exact opposite has happened. She has had her implants in for four years and will be getting a surgical explant next month. Several months after getting her breast implants, my friend began experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains. She has also experienced severe weakness, hair loss, dry mouth, sleep disturbances, anxiety, body aches, and more. She has been to her PCP, specialists, and to the ER multiple times. All of her tests have come back unremarkable, yet her symptoms persist. At this point, I decided to do my own research and see what information I could find on this condition.

Research and Information

Currently, there are hundreds of support groups for “Breast Implant Illness.” Some of these groups have as many as 86,000 or more members. Because of the outcry for help, the FDA and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are in the process of developing new studies to gain a better understanding of these vague symptoms which appear to be potentially related to breast implants of all types.

Despite the multitude of support groups developed for individuals who believe they are experiencing abnormal symptoms related to their breast implants, there are millions of people who have breast implant surgery and have no problems, at all. It is noted that there may be a group of people at higher risk for developing Breast Implant Illness. Individuals who have a personal history or family history of allergies or autoimmune diseases may be at higher risk for developing unwelcomed symptoms post-implant surgery. One study found that women with silicone implants had higher IgE levels than women without silicone breast implants.  Another study indicated that high-risk women experienced a modulation of key cytokines which may be responsible for the inflammatory reaction.

To date, there is no commonly used test(s) or diagnostic criteria specifically utilized for Breast Implant Illness. Most patients present to plastic surgeons once all other medical diagnoses or conditions have been ruled out. Plastic surgeons will generally do their own testing, as well. When there is no underlying condition found, breast explant surgery is often proposed.

Deciding to have a breast explant is a major decision, but for many patients, it is a decision that has given them their lives back. Several studies indicate that the majority of patients who chose to undergo breast explant surgery see a decrease in severity or resolution of symptoms (though not all).

Despite no concrete evidence at this time that breast implants cause autoimmune like reactions in individuals, it is clear that more testing is needed. Breast augmentation already comes with known risks such as: infection, scar tissue development, rupture and deflation, breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and more. It is possible that Breast Implant Illness will be added to this list in the upcoming years.

For providers, it is important to keep this information in mind when a patient with a history of breast implants presents with unexplained symptoms and unremarkable test results.

For patients, choosing to have breast augmentation surgery is a major decision and all risks and potential side effects should be carefully reviewed before proceeding. Health and well-being should not be taken for granted and should always be at the forefront of any decision making.


Resources

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Breast Implant Illness - Frequently Asked Questions/Talking Points. August 2019.

Maijers MC et al. Women with silicone breasts implants and unexplained symptoms

What Is Breast Implant Illness?/ (2020, February 25).

PCU_RN9 is a MSN and specializes in Insurance/ cardiac.

3 Articles; 3,029 Profile Views; 61 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

3 Followers; 1 Article; 1,467 Posts; 20,276 Profile Views

This is really interesting--it makes me wonder if there are any other such autoimmune syndromes related to different implanted medical devices (like artificial joints), or if this is specific to implants because of material that's used. It also makes me wonder if the incidence has changed over time as different implant materials have been used (although that would be really tough to study, since I doubt the constellation of symptoms was being tracked before social media support groups started popping up and it was formally identified.).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

286 Posts; 6,552 Profile Views

I truly wish women would be happier with the bodies they have and learn to love themselves more. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

1 Follower; 1,047 Posts; 9,210 Profile Views

9 hours ago, zbb13 said:

I truly wish women would be happier with the bodies they have and learn to love themselves more. 

Just because a woman (or man) chooses to have cosmetic surgery doesn't mean that they don't love themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Emergent has 25 years experience.

9 Followers; 2 Articles; 3,190 Posts; 69,189 Profile Views

I wear a size 34-B. Such a perfect size. Plus they worked great for feeding my babies!

I think it's a big mistake to unnecessarily put plastics and other foreign materials permanently into ones body. Tinkering with mother nature's complex and delicate systems is inviting trouble. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

3 Followers; 1 Article; 1,467 Posts; 20,276 Profile Views

I'm kind of conflicted. On the one hand, I don't think it's anyone's place to judge what a person does to make themselves feel beautiful. For instance, women wear make-up and dye their hair all of the time, and nobody thinks twice. I wonder if people would feel differently in cases of breast-augmentation post-mastectomy; you're still putting a foreign object purely for cosmetic reasons, but people might be more empathetic in that case than a run-of-the-mill 'boob job.'

On the other hand, I think it's kind of gross that plastic surgeons (and the 'beauty industrial complex' as a whole) literally turn a profit by encouraging women to buy into the idea that they aren't attractive enough when compared to completely unrealistic standards (photoshopped images portrayed by the media)......

I also agree with @Emergent that it seems problematic for people to undergo a procedure as invasive as surgery over something that's purely cosmetic. There are plenty of people who have died from plastic surgery, and their deaths were entirely preventable. Back when I worked in outpatient radiology, we had a plastic surgeon who was doing implants on an 18-year-old; he thought she blew a pneumo during the procedure, so he drove her to our outpatient, walk-in radiology clinic IN HIS CAR, and she ended up in the hospital.

Plus, that doesn't even start to cover the number of people who are severely disfigured or permanently disabled by getting discounted, under-the-table procedures from unlicensed or fraudulent providers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

blondenurse12 has 13 years experience as a MSN, NP and specializes in Family Practice.

119 Posts; 3,135 Profile Views

Take this for what it's worth- I got implants about 4 years ago. Prior to the implants, I had been dealing with unusual symptoms. Long story short, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder about a year after having implants. I had the disorder beforehand but it took me almost 7 years to be properly diagnosed. The sad truth is many clinicians chalk up female health complaints to anxiety or depression instead of really investigating. 

 

Had I not been more astute, I might have blamed the implants. How many women have undiagnosed underlying health conditions before getting implants? We know ALCL is linked to implants but it's a very low risk and is only found with textured implants. 

I personally think it's one of the best choices I ever made. I went from constantly hating my body to finally being free to wear the clothes I wanted to wear and feeling like my body is proportional. I guess to each their own but I've not had a single issue. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×

This site uses cookies. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Read our Privacy, Cookies, and Terms of Service Policies to learn more.