Breast Implant Illness – Is It Real?

BREAST IMPLANT ILLNESS ( BII )

Breast implant illness has again become a controversy within the media and the public. Concern about BII has existed since the eighty’s with no real ability to diagnose it, or causally prove its existence. There has been no real progress in understanding BII or whether it is a real entity.

Breast Implants have been used for cosmetic augmentation and cancer reconstruction for decades. Most patients have done very well with few problems.

A few patients whom have undergone these procedures, have developed, at some time following, a wide variety of vague symptoms ( headache,fatigue ,muscle pain,dental problems,hair loss ) or symptoms  compatible with autoimmune syndromes or collagen vascular diseases.

Some patients have argued that they were healthy prior to the introduction of breast implants and the only thing to change in their life was the use of breast implants. There is a certain easy logic to this argument, but very poor science to be able to show or prove a causal relationship.

IS BREAST IMPLANT ILLNESS REAL?

The simple answer answer is, we don’t know.

There is no test that can be done to show a patient has this “illness”.

Population studies have shown that the incidence of collagen vascular/autoimmune diseases is the same in implant and non-implant patients (seeming to show implants are not a contributing factor).

WHAT DO WE KNOW?

Everyone has some silicone in them.

Breast implants, like all implants, get encapsulated in scar tissue.  In a small group of patients this scar will tighten causing capsular contraction. When implants (foreign body) are removed the capsule will be resolved by the body.

Very few patients with textured breast implants maybe at risk of developing ALCL.

With aging, people develop a variety of somewhat vague symptoms and sometimes specific diseases. 

Patients who experience “breast implant illness” have symptoms that they feel are real. To date, it is not possible to prove that breast implants are related to these symptoms . There is no test to connect the two.

Patients who undergo explanation with or without capsulectomy may not experience any long term change in their symptomatology.

In summary, patients with the symptoms of BII may have real issues but they will most likely be found to be multifactorial and Not directly related to breast implants.

If you have concerns re Breast Implant illness, you should seek information from your Plastic surgeon , or any Plastic Surgeon(FRCSC). Banff Plastic Surgery also has great resources if you’d like to learn more.