The article ‘What is Breast Implant Illness?’ written by Dr. Jolene Brighten, a Functional Medicine Naturopathic Physician who specializes in women’s hormone health, discusses the possibilities of Breast Implant Illness and the concept of informed discussions with your doctor. Dr. Brighten states that this article is here to provide you with information and education to have an informed discussion with your doctor about whether breast implants are right for you, or whether removing implants you already have might be of benefit if you’ve developed symptoms.
Breast implant illness (BII) is the term used to describe symptoms associated with breast implants and can range from joint pain, skin rashes, hair loss, and headaches to chronic fatigue, anxiety, neurological issues, and brain fog. There is a long list of possible symptoms of BII and different women may experience different problems from their breast implants. Dr. Brighten reached out to me to ask about my personal experience with Breast Implant Illness and the symptoms I dealt with within the first year of getting my breast implants. Some of my symptoms included amenorrhea, shortness of breath, nodules of my thyroid, swollen lymph nodes in my back, debilitating fatigue, neurological symptoms such as brain fog and memory problems, symptoms of hormonal imbalance, multiple food intolerances, severe IBS-D, and body pain even after small amounts of activity.
Many women who have undergone breast augmentation surgery, including myself, did not feel like they were properly informed of breast implants or their health risks by their surgeon. I personally did not feel informed of Breast Implant Illness or the adverse side effects breast implants could have on my body, I was only informed of common possible issues. Dr. Brighten says this could be because, for many years, the symptoms women complained of were brushed off by their doctors or attributed to other things. She also believes medical gender bias could also play a role in delayed diagnosis and dismissal of symptoms.
There is also no specific test for breast implant illness, making it harder to diagnose. However, a doctor may perform other tests and examinations to rule out other medical conditions. Most women who feel they have been impacted by Breast Implant Illness will choose to have explant surgery to remove the breast implants completely. After years of declining health and doctors’ appointments, I decided to explant in August 2019, and along with supporting my body with nutrition and exercise, majority of the symptoms I had been experiencing resolved within months. While there is no way to eliminate the symptoms of breast implant illness without implant removal, reducing your overall inflammation might help with symptom management. One effective way to reduce inflammation is through nutrition, lifestyle, and supplementation under your healthcare provider’s supervision. This is to help mitigate symptoms and is not a treatment or cure for BII. Adopting a whole-foods eating plan to nourish your body and optimize hormones may help support you through this time and can be beneficial when undergoing surgery.
I adopted a more holistic lifestyle and focused on fueling my body with nutrients when I was dealing with symptoms of Breast Implant Illness and it really did make a difference in my overall health and healing after explant surgery. It’s important for me to bring awareness to Breast Implant Illness so that women can make informed decisions and support their bodies. I’m not anti-plastic surgery, I’m just pro-being informed so you can make the best decisions for yourself.
Written by Krista Tagaras
@kristiafit on IG