Breast implants pose a risk for a wide range of symptoms and health challenges. In fact, because the scope of possible health issues related to breast implants is so broad, there is an entire disease category dedicated to assorted health symptoms called Breast Implant Illness (BII). As a naturopathic physician I have managed BII cases ranging from autoimmunity to hormone challenges and from detoxification issues to postoperative complications. Let’s get into what is Breast Implant Illness and explain why you should think long and hard about the consequences of undergoing breast implant surgery.
What Is Breast Implant Illness?
Breast implant illness refers to a wide range of symptoms developed after breast reconstruction or breast implant surgery. The nature of BII often affects the immune system which is why it is also known as autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA). (1)
When Does Breast Implant Illness Occur?
All types of breast implants can lead to BII symptoms including: (1)
- Silicone gel-filled
- Smooth surface
- Textured surface
- Round or teardrop-shaped
BII can affect each patient in different ways, which makes it difficult for people to recognize they have BII. (1)
Do Breast Implants Cause Cancer?
Anyone considering breast implants also needs to know the FDA warned of a possible link between breast implants and a rare anaplastic, large cell lymphoma years ago. This is a cancer of the lymphatic system. This is why I strongly recommend my patients have their implants removed.
Do I Have Breast Implant Illness – Understanding BII Symptoms
Possible symptoms of BII include: (1)
- Joint and muscle pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Memory and concentration problems
- Breathing problems
- Sleep disturbance
- Rashes and other skin problems
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems
You can develop symptoms immediately following implant surgery, or years later. This is why many patients don’t connect their symptoms with their implants. (1)
Breast Implants Are A Prosthetic
I want to point out that breast implants are a prosthetic. In other words, the implant is a foreign object implanted in your body. And, more importantly, the prosthetic contains foreign substances including the silicone lining of the implant which is often what causes the body to go into an autoimmune attack mode.
That response is the effect of the breast tissue reacting with a lymphatic system response. Why? Because our bodies recognize the implant as a foreign object and try to rid our systems of the threat.
Breast Implant Removal
We refer to breast implant removal surgery as “explantation.” It is the best solution for women experiencing symptoms of BII. However, it is also a preventative step to avoid serious effects of your breast implants. (2)
The procedure removes the implants, leaked silicone material and hardened scar tissue that can be adding to pain and other BII symptoms. Even if you don’t feel you have BII, cosmetic surgeons recommend breast implant replacement every 10 to 15 years to avoid leaks and the hardening of scar tissue. (2)
Breast Implant Illness Studies
Recent studies have found breast implants pose serious dangers for patients including a greater propensity to develop autoimmunity. In fact, one study out of the University of Alberta found one in four implantation patients developed a serious autoimmune disorder.
Risks Of Autoimmune Disorders
To put the study’s findings in perspective, that means that 25% of all breast implant patients will develop an autoimmune disorder. However, it also means that 45% are at risk of developing an autoimmune disorder following breast implant surgery. As a naturopathic doctor I feel this number is far too high to ignore.
Breast Implant Illness And Lymphatic Movement
Knowing this, it becomes really important to motivate your lymphatics. You want to help minimize the fluid and lymphatic burden of your body attacking your prosthetic. One of the best ways to improve lymph movement is dry skin brushing. Use a natural bristle brush on dry breast skin before showering, brushing gently towards your armpit to help improve lymphatic movement.
Breast Implant Illness And Pain Management
Many of my patients experience pain, twinging, lightning strike pains, or develop fibroidic or cystic tissue in the breast. If you have breast pain from BBI, I recommend a homeopathic topical swelling pain reducer to help minimize inflammation while also moving your lymphatics. If you can’t remove your implants, you need to keep your lymphatics open and moving to help them detox that tissue as best you can. Products like T-Relief Gel are excellent options for pain management and lymph movement.
CBD Infused Tea
A CBD infused tea with turmeric and ginger is really helpful for reducing breast inflammation and pain. I recommend taking it at night as it calms the body. The tea also minimizes the impact on your adrenal glands and neurotransmitters by helping to balance your endocrine system. As a result, you can at least minimize and offset some of the burden on your neurotransmitters.
What Are Neurotransmitters?
Your nervous system plays an important role in pretty much all your bodily functions. Neurons use neurotransmitters as messengers that carry signals to other cells in your body to trigger necessary actions for healthy function. Functions include: (3)
- Heart Rate
- Sleep Cycles
- Muscle Movement
Examples of neurotransmitters include dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. (3)
Happy Breast Balm For Breast Implant Illness
One last recommendation is Happy Breast Balm. This is an all-around great product for breast health. I use it every day. It provides nutrients directly into the breast tissue using super clean ingredients like frankincense and coconut oils. The aromatherapy and essential oils are good for healing the breast tissue and minimizing cysts and fluid retention. It also has iodine, something that we don’t really talk a lot about in our breast tissue.
Molecular iodine (I2) can promote breast health., helping to reduce sensitivity of breast cells and help increase estrogen to normalize breast tissue. (4)
If you do have breast implants, it’s in your best interest to seek recommendations on having them removed. Explantation for breast implants might seem like an extreme treatment for BII, but it is the best solution to reduce risk for developing more serious illnesses such as cancer, while improving your overall health. If explantation isn’t possible, these tips will help keep lymph moving, reduce pain and minimize impact on your adrenal glands and neurotransmitters.
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