What is Breast Implant Illness?

Breast implant illness refers to a wide range of symptoms that some women develop after reconstructive or breast augmentation surgery. Let’s delve into breast implant illness, its symptoms, causes, and treatment. 

What is Breast Implant Illness?

After undergoing breast implant surgery or breast reconstruction surgery, breast implant illness (BII) describes a range of symptoms that can occur. It’s not a medical diagnosis as such but rather a term for several symptoms. BII can affect each individual differently, so you may not experience the same symptoms as someone else. 

BII can occur with any type of breast implant. Factors such as size, shape, and surface don’t play a role in determining whether or not you will develop BII. The term breast implant illness has developed to ​​describe several symptoms some people experience after getting breast implants or reconstructive surgery. 

Breast Implant Illness Symptoms 

Breast implant illness covers a wide range of symptoms, both physical and mental. 

Breast implant illness symptoms list: 

  • Joint and muscle pain 
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing problems 
  • Sleep problems 
  • Dry skin 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Hair loss 
  • Headaches 
  • Memory and concentration issues 

BII symptoms can develop at any time after surgery. Even years after a breast implant or reconstructive surgery. Some people find that symptoms arise almost immediately after surgery, while others don’t experience any for years.  

What Causes Breast Implant Illness?

In a lot of cases, breast implant illness is associated with autoimmune and connective tissue disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. Some people with BII also end up being diagnosed with an autoimmune or connective tissue disorder. But not in all cases. Some people also end up having a ruptured implant, but again, not in all cases. 

Because breast implant illness isn’t a recognised medical illness, it’s difficult to say its precise cause. Some believe that it’s down to your body’s inflammatory response to the implant or a reaction to its specific components. Currently, there isn’t enough research to make a claim about the exact cause of breast implant illness. 

How Common is Breast Implant Illness? 

To date, there is a lack of wide-scale studies that evaluate breast implant illness and how many people experience it. While more patients have been reporting BII to their doctors in the past few years, it’s difficult to put a number on it. Social media groups have been raising awareness of the condition, with groups having hundreds of thousands of members. 

How Do You Diagnose Breast Implant Illness? 

There is no set way to diagnose BII. Often, it’s common for those with BII to seek treatment for multiple symptoms that are interfering with everyday function. Generally, your plastic surgeon may try to rule out other issues through various tests to see if your symptoms improve. Plastic surgeons have various approaches to dealing with BII. In the long term removing breast implants is likely the best scenario. It’s important that any scar tissue is also removed, as this is a key part of the treatment. 

How Do You Treat Breast Implant Illness? 

In many cases, surgery to remove the breast implants either improves or completely resolves BII symptoms. Often, when you remove the implants, you would also remove surrounding scar tissue capsules. Because breast implant illness isn’t well understood yet, individual plastic surgeons may offer different treatments depending on their experience. 

If you’re considering getting breast implants or replacing your current ones, speak to your plastic surgeon about the potential risk of breast implant illness. During your consultation, they will talk you through everything you need to know. 

On the other hand, if you think you may be experiencing breast implant illness, it’s vital that you seek out expert medical advice from a plastic surgeon. You don’t always have to return to the surgeon who performed your implant surgery if you find someone who has more experience dealing with BII, they can support you through the next stages of treatment. 

Breast Implant Safety 

Breast implants are one of the most studied and widely used implantable medical devices worldwide. Implants are considered safe but can have rare and sometimes serious side effects. Expert breast surgeons around the world speak with patients every day to provide the most up-to-date knowledge about breast implant safety. 

Anyone with any concerns should make sure they speak to someone who is a reliable source of information before undergoing any type of surgery. If you have any questions, especially about your breast implants, ask your surgeon as many questions as you need. 

If you’re considering getting breast implants, it’s important that you understand the risks and potential side effects of the procedure. You should be aware of both short term and long term risks associated with breast implants. 

You can read more about breast implant risks here: 

How We Manage Complications After A Plastic Surgery Operation at The Harley Clinic

Can You Enlarge Breasts Without Implants? 

You can enlarge breasts without implants through fat transfer breast augmentation. If you’re worried about the risks that come with breast implants, an alternative is to use fat grafting techniques to increase breast size. While there is no such thing as a completely risk-free surgery, fat grafting doesn’t use foreign materials. So, it takes out the chances of your body reacting to something that’s new to your body. 

Fat grafting techniques can create natural-looking results without using breast implants. For significantly larger size increases, breast implants may be more suitable. Other breast surgeries may be an option, like a breast lift. This would be ideal for those happy with their size, but looking for a little lift. 

Diagnosing and Treating Breast Implant Illness 

The first step in diagnosing and treating breast implant illness is booking a consultation with an expert plastic surgeon. During your consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your situation, speak through your symptoms, and help you understand what implant removal may look like for you if necessary. 

If you’re concerned about your breast implants, contact the team at the Harley Clinic to book a consultation today. 

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