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What is Breast Implant Illness?

Although not fully recognized as an official disease, symptoms being attributed to what is being called “breast implant illness (BII)” have  affected hundreds of women after breast augmentation. "BII" is characterized by those affected by a wide range of symptoms and it has also been theorized that it may be associated with certain kinds of pre-existing autoimmune problems.

What Causes Breast Implant Illness?

While it’s still not completely known what causes some women to develop what is being called “breast implant illness”, there is intensive research being conducted on the issue right now. While many cases of what has been called “breast implant illness” have eventually been shown to be due to other conditions unrelated to breast implants— including thyroid or other endocrine disorders, autoimmune disorders, neurologic disorders, or psychiatric disorders—many still have no other good explanation. 

Current theories about the development of a possible condition called “breast implant illness” include: 

  • Pre-existing autoimmune issues
  • A hyperactive immune system 
  • A foreign body reaction to a large surface foreign body 
  • Possible chronic inflammation caused by low-grade bacterial contamination of implants

Further study will have to be done to better define these issues. It can take several years for symptoms attributed to “breast implant illness” to develop after initial breast augmentation.

General background

What are the Symptoms of BII?

The symptoms attributed to “breast implant illness” are wide and varied, and this is part of the reason why it has been so difficult to elucidate the problem. They can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Muscle ache
  • Brain fog
  • Rashes
  • Migraines
  • Stomach problems
  • Breathing issues
  • Dry mouth/dry eyes
  • Hair loss
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Depression
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Overall unwell feeling

Treatment for Breast Implant Illness

An overwhelming amount of BII patients begin to feel much better when they choose to have their implants removed. In most cases, a complete removal of the implant and the surrounding scar tissue—an en bloc breast implant removal—is the best course of treatment. Dr. G performs this surgery for many women who are experiencing symptoms of breast implant illness. While there is no guarantee of feeling better, this surgery has worked for many patients.

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FAQ

Who is more at risk to develop breast implant illness?

Is saline or silicone more likely to cause breast implant illness?

Is there a test to see if a patient will develop breast implant illness?

Who is more at risk to develop breast implant illness?

Because breast implant illness has not been formally determined to be an actual identifiable disease process, it is impossible at this point to make any statements about who is at risk to develop it.

Is saline or silicone more likely to cause breast implant illness?

Some believe that silicone breast implants are more likely to cause BII, but when studying the reports of breast implant illness symptoms in affected women, it appears as though it can develop with any type of implant. The texture, shape, and filler don’t actually matter.

Is there a test to see if a patient will develop breast implant illness?

Many BII patients begin to feel much better when they choose to have their implants removed. While some people have suggested that in suspected BII cases, a complete removal of the implant and the surrounding scar tissue with a so-called “en bloc breast implant removal”—removal of the entire capsule and breast implant as a single unit without opening the capsule, thus the name “en bloc”—is the best course of treatment, this has not been shown to be true, and the routine use of en bloc capsulectomy is discouraged by Dr. G.

While Dr. G performs explant (breast implant removal surgery) and complete, or total, capsulectomy (removal of the entire capsule in addition to removal of the implant, just not always as a single unit) for women who are experiencing symptoms of breast implant illness and desire removal of their implants, there is no guarantee of feeling better with either approach.

Why Choose Dr. G for BII Surgery?

Not only are breast procedures one of Dr. G’s main services; revision procedures are as well. This means he is the ideal surgeon to perform breast implant illness surgery. In practice for over 20 years, Dr. Joseph Grzeskiewicz (“Dr. G” to his patients) is a board-certified plastic surgeon who upholds a work philosophy based on love, care, and dedication. He is extremely hands-on, performing his own pre-op, post-op, consults, and follow-ups and allowing patients 24/7 access to contact his team. Practice manager Eva Tutic is also a patient advocate, providing emotional support for the excitement, anxiety, doubts, and worries that often come along with undergoing breast procedures. If you’re considering surgery to remove your implants, we welcome you to book a consultation with us today.

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