Breast Implant Illness And Your Health
Breast Implant Illness And Your Health
Breast augmentation is the most popular elective cosmetic surgical procedure in the world. Approximately 20,000 women undergo this procedure each year in Australia, with 75% for cosmetic augmentation and 25% for reconstruction after breast surgery, such as a mastectomy. 
Although considered to be relatively safe by the mainstream medical community, a correlation between breast implants and certain illnesses has been detected. This has come to be known as Breast Implant Illness (BII).
There has been much discussion about whether or not Breast Implant Illness is real, but more and more research is coming to light, as well as the important testimonies of implant recipients, which tells us that it is something that needs attention.
If you have breast implants and are experiencing adverse symptoms, it may be time to investigate if there’s a link between your implants and your deteriorating health.
About breast implants
A breast augmentation involves placing implants under the breasts or under the breast muscles on the chest. 
There are two different types of implants – one made of a silicone shell filled with saline (salty water) and one filled with silicone gel.
There are differences between the two, including:
Saline breast implants
- Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water. They’re usually put into the breast empty and filled when they’re in place.
- Saline implants are usually less expensive than silicone.
- A drawback of saline is that some report that they’re more easily seen under the skin
- You may feel water sloshing around.
- Saline implants are considered safer as if they rupture, they your body can reabsorb the salt water.
Silicone breast implants
- Silicone breast implants are made fully of silicone, a synthetic material that feels similar to human fat.
- Many women report that silicone breast implants feel the most natural, looking and feeling more like natural breast tissue.
Breast implant illness and its symptoms
Breast implant illness isn’t well understood but can be debilitating with symptoms varying from person to person. It can occur with any type of breast implant, including silicone gel-filled, saline-filled, smooth surface, textured surface, round, or teardrop-shaped.
Although there is a risk of breast implants rupturing, breast implant illness may occur even when the implants have not ruptured. As the implants are in your body, you will still absorb the chemicals that are present in the implants. This creates an inflammatory response in the body.
Symptoms can occur immediately or sometimes, years later.
Common symptoms of breast implant illness include:
- joint and muscle pain
- chronic fatigue
- memory and concentration problems
- breathing problems
- sleep disturbance
- rashes and skin problems
- dry mouth and dry eyes
- hair loss
- gastrointestinal problems 
For some women, further symptoms can include:
- Premature aging of skin
- Weight problems
- Slow recovery after exercise
- Throat clearing, cough, difficulty swallowing, choking
- Reflux, GERD
- Nausea, gastritis, leaky gut, SIBO
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Fevers, night sweats, heat intolerance
- Persistent bacterial and viral infections
- UTI infections, Interstitial Cystitis
- Yeast infections, candida, sinusitis (fungal)
- Ear ringing
- Metallic tastes
- Sudden new food intolerances and allergies
- Heart palpitations, heart changes, heart pain
- Blood pressure problems
- Swollen and tender lymph nodes of breast and underarm
- Adrenal fatigue
- Parathyroid problems
- Diminishing hormones, early menopause
- Low libido
- Slow healing, easy bruising
- Bouts of dehydration for no reason
- Frequent urination
- Numbness and tingling in limbs
- Cold and discoloured hands and feet
- Chest discomfort
- Pain or burning around implant and underarm
- Liver problems
- Kidney problems
- Gallbladder problems
- Pancreatitis 
What are the chemicals present in breast implants?
Siloxanes are chemical compounds that contain silicon. Three types of siloxanes have been found in tissues of breast implant recipients. They can impact the body by:
- Being bio accumulative and toxic
- Suppressing immune function by suppressing natural killer cell activity
- Creating autoimmune / autoinflammatory syndrome which is induced by adjuvants, which is a substance that enhances the immune system’s response to the presence of an antigen. 
Silicone and the manufacturing process to produce silicone requires chemicals. Both the silicone shell in saline and silicone implants and the silicone gel in silicone implants contain many chemicals, including:
- Heavy metals such as tin, platinum, lead, antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, titanium, selenium, silver and vanadium
- Organosilicon compounds
- Organic acids
- Terpenes 
These toxins are now known to have side effects for women with breast implants, causing some of the following issues:
- Damage to the DNA, impaired ability to repair DNA
- Cell damage
- Deactivate enzymes
- Potentially replace minerals and vitamins, inhibiting their effect
- The impairment of the immune system through overstimulation of inflammatory reactions
- Symptoms that may include fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, confusion, chronic infections, and anaemia 
Xylene and acetone are also usually used as solvents during the manufacturing process of breast implants. These are classified as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are chemical compounds that have certain physical properties and are emitted as a gas from a liquid or solid. Exposure to their vapours can cause a number of adverse health conditions and are suspected or proven carcinogens.
Both xylene and acetone are poisonous to the nervous system and can cause confusion, headache, dizziness, or even losing consciousness. Chronic or prolonged exposure to xylene can also lead to anaemia, blood clots, and chest pain. Acetone can also negatively affect the blood and kidneys. 
Health issues that can arise from breast implant illness
Studies have shown that silicone breast implants are associated with an increased risk of autoimmune diseases.
Silicone has been shown to create an inflammatory response in the body by:
Macrophages gathering over the surface of the implant, activated T-lymphocytes stimulating macrophages to fuse and form foreign body giant cells that engulf beads of silicone gel and angiogenesis and fibroplasia occurring around the implant in response to macrophage release factors. 
If you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system becomes confused and mistakenly attacks your own cells and tissues. There’s mounting evidence that the toxins in breast implants can actually disrupt your immune system enough that it triggers this confusion – resulting in autoimmunity. 
Some of the autoimmune diseases that are linked with breast implants include lupus, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Hashimoto’s, Addison’s Disease, Graves Disease, Sjogren’s, Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Unspecified Connective Tissue Disease, POTS, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Multiple Sclerosis.
If you already have an autoimmune disorder, you may want to avoid implants entirely.
Increased cancer risk
In 2019, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recalled and suspended several breast implants and tissue expanders due to a small risk of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Implants with a textured outer silicone shell and a certain type of plastic shell called polyurethane have the highest risk.
Other cancers known to be associated with breast implants include melanoma, brain cancer, myeloma, respiratory cancer, breast cancer, carcinomas and sarcomas.
Breast implants have also shown to increase the risk of stillbirths, fibromyalgia, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Lyme Disease.
What you can do if you have breast implants and unwanted symptoms
The first and obvious question to ask yourself is whether you will have your implants taken out. This is a deeply personal decision but if you are experiencing debilitating symptoms, this may be your best option.
Test for toxins
Initially, there are a number of tests to get to the root cause of your specific symptoms that you can undergo. These include testing for nutrient status, infections, toxins, pathogens and mould and autoimmune activity.
Detoxify with an anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates sugars, gluten, dairy products, and processed foods that can cause inflammation in the gut. Eat plenty of leafy greens, fresh fruit and vegetables and lean proteins.
Restore a healthy gut
Test your microbiome checking for pathogens and dysbiosis. Eat plenty of probiotics and prebiotics to restore the health of your gut microbiome. Eat lots of fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled foods, as well as consider a supplement probiotic and prebiotic to help you along.
Support your immune system
Boost your intake of vitamins C, A, E, K, and D and ensure you are getting enough zinc, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium.
Check for MTHFR genetic variants and support your methylation and detox pathways
MTHFR genetic variants, which impair our ability to activate crucial B vitamins that support liver methylation and other important functions, may be inhibiting your ability to detox. You may need to supplement with methylfolate (L-5-MTHF and MethylB12 supplements such as methyl-cobalamin, adenosyl-cobalamin or hydroxocobalamin).
Exercise such as walking, yoga and Pilates are all great ways to help your body detoxify and heal.
How we can help
At Advanced Functional Medicine, our team of expert health practitioners are equipped to conduct thorough testing following symptoms that are appearing after breast implants or after your have had them removed.
With careful investigation, we can set you on a journey to improve your health with targeted medicinal approaches, diet and lifestyle support and supplementation. Eradicating infections and toxins, balancing your biochemistry and healing your gut are all approaches we take from a functional medicine view.
Contact us to find out more.