Tens of thousands of women say their breast implants have made them sick. There are countless stories of hospitalizations, broken marriages, lost jobs, and deteriorating health– all because of an illness for which there is no diagnostic test. Yet breast implant illness is a very real problem and a current focus for the FDA and patient safety advocates across the country.
Researchers have explored the link between breast implants and rheumatoid /autoimmune disorders, and the results are unsettling. According to a 2018 epidemiological study that looked at 2 million women over a 20-year period, women with silicone breast implants had higher rates of autoimmune diseases and inflammatory disorders. But breast implant illness isn’t limited to only silicone products. This illness has also been associated with saline and gel-filled implants as well.
Breast Implant Illness Symptoms
What are the symptoms of breast implant illness?
Women– of all ages and walks of life– have reported a wide range of debilitating symptoms that manifested after their implant surgery. From severe muscle pain and fatigue to kidney dysfunction and cognitive impairment, the symptoms have left many victims bedridden, depressed, and unsure of where to turn for help.
Because the physical symptoms that accompany this illness are so broad and unique from patient to patient, many women have been left scrambling for answers.
Weren’t breast implants supposed to be safe?
Just last year, the FDA announced that Allergan was conducting a global recall of its textured breast implants. They did this to protect patients from the risk of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). First identified two decades ago, BIA-ALCL is a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma– found only in patients with breast implants. The newer textured implants are considered the primary risk factor.
Unlike BIA-ALCL, breast implant illness (or BII) is a collection of chiefly autoimmune issues that can produce symptoms such as:
- Hair loss
- Chest pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blurred vision
- Brain fog
- Dry eyes and skin
- Recurrent infections
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Joint soreness
- Thyroid problems
- Hormone imbalances
- Panic disorders
- Slow healing of wounds
- Ringing in the ears
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Elevated heavy metal levels
BII not a recognized disease, despite studies
Breast implant illness can arise in women who have received saline, silicone, or form-stable implants—since they all have a silicone shell. It is thought that individuals who have a family history of allergies or autoimmune disorders may be at higher risk for developing breast implant sickness. However, more conclusive research is necessary.
The potential side effects of breast implants like capsular contracture, rupture and infection are well-documented, but many doctors misdiagnose or fail to recognize the symptoms of breast implant illness. At present, BII is not a medically recognized disease, but this may soon change as more studies point to the validity of the illness.
In 2018, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers published a large-scale study showing that women with silicone breast implants were more likely to develop severe autoimmune issues such as Sjögren syndrome, characterized by dry eyes and a dry mouth, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma, which causes a thickening of connective tissues and skin.
Women who developed autoimmune and connective tissue disorders have almost universally seen improvement once their implants were removed. According to a small study by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 89 percent of women who had implant removal and capsulectomy– noted symptom improvement within 3 months.
Do breast implants cause cancer?
Textured breast implants have been linked to anaplastic large cell lymphoma — what some are calling a “man-made” cancer since it is unique to a medical device. According to the FDA, 573 cases of BIA-ALCL with 33 patient deaths have been reported around the world. Nine of these deaths occurred in the United States.
Based on the latest data, federal health regulators have determined that the risk of BIA-ALCL is roughly six times higher in women who received Allergan Biocell textured implants compared to those from other manufacturers.
What are the symptoms of BIA-ALCL?
Common symptoms include:
- Pain in the breast area
- Skin rash
- Fluid build-up
- Lump or mass in the breast implant area
Anaplastic large cell lymphoma has been diagnosed in patients with both saline and silicone implant versions. Women who experience the symptoms of this should see their doctor for further evaluation. If caught early, the cancer is usually curable by removing the implant along with radiation or chemotherapy.
Lawsuits over breast implant illness and cancer
As the FDA takes a fresh look at breast implant safety, women are taking their grievances to court. If you are suffering symptoms of breast implant illness, or have been diagnosed with BIA ALCL, Showard Law Firm has the experience and resources to help.
Explore your legal options by scheduling a free consultation today. There are no fees unless compensation is recovered on your behalf.
- org. What Is Breast Implant Illness? https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/reconstruction/types/implants/special-report/breast-implant-illnessMedicalNewsToday, Through my eyes: Breast implant illness https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326111.php#1
- Annals of Surgery, US FDA Breast Implant Post approval Studies Long-term Outcomes in 99,993 Patients https://journals.lww.com/annalsofsurgery/Citation/2019/01000/US_FDA_Breast_Implant_Postapproval_Studies_.7.aspx https://www.surgery.org/sites/default/files/downloads/BII-Talking-Points-FINAL-1.15.19.pdf
- International Journal of Epidemiology, Silicone breast implants and the risk of autoimmune/rheumatic disorders: a real-world analysis https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/47/6/1846/5133598
- Oncology Nursing News, FDA Demands More Information on Cancer and Illnesses Caused by Breast Implants https://www.oncnursingnews.com/web-exclusives/fda-demands-more-information-on-cancer-and-illnesses-caused-by-breast-implants
- org, Breast Implant Illness, and BIA-ALCL https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/reconstruction/types/implants/special-report