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Breast Implant Illness

breastplant illness

Breast Implant Illness

I know five people who have recently had their breast implants removed for various reasons. All of them were experiencing similar symptoms that developed over time after implant surgery. So many people have no idea how silently harmful breast implants can be to our health. Hopefully this will give you some insight on Breast Implant Illness – Could your implants be making you sick?

What is Breast Implant Illness?

Breast Augmentation is an elective cosmetic surgery where an implant is surgically placed under the skin. Implants can be inserted over or under the muscle. There are different kinds of implants, which you can read about here.

Breast Implant Illness is a collection of symptoms and illnesses reported by women who have undergone breast implant surgery. It is a multifaceted illness that begins with the immune system and eventually can affect other body systems. Basically, the entire body becomes inflamed as shown in a study comparing women with and without silicone implants. Those with implants had higher IgE levels than those without.  IgE is elevated when the immune system is fighting to stay healthy.

If you think about your immune system, it is designed to attack foreign intruders.  So, it makes sense that if you put an artificial object in the body, it will eventually go into attack mode. Symptoms vary and can be from a response towards the foreign object, inflammation, oxidative stress, bacterial biofilms, and toxicity due to silicone, heavy metals, chemicals and biotoxins.

But Newer Implants Are Safe, Right?

If you look at research or ask a surgeon, I think most will tell you implants are not made like they used to be, and after years of debating safety – they are safe now. You will likely hear that newer implants are not likely to leak or cause illness and they don’t have the risk implants once carried. Most surgeons will tell you the simplicity of recovery and give you the general basic risks of any surgery. After all, implants are FDA approved, right?

The FDA has a list of risks and complications of breast implants, but even the FDA notes possible complications, among them being..

“Symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, rash, “brain fog,” and joint pain have been reported by some patients with breast implants. Some patients may use the term “breast implant illness” (BII) to describe these symptoms.”


I think most surgeons will not tell you that implant shells are made with silicone, which is an endocrine disruptor. Or that they can slowly release heavy metals, silicone and other chemicals into the body. Over time, the immune system is weakened and that makes the other body systems at risk for being compromised. This eventually makes the body go a little crazy and things slowly start going wrong.  

Signs & Symptoms of BII

There is no test to diagnose BII.  In fact, patients often look well physically and on paper via their lifestyle and general labs.  BII deals with the immune system, which is huge and can affect so many different areas of the body in different ways. That is why BII can present itself very differently to each individual. The areas of the body commonly affected include metabolic, neurological, endocrine, immune and digestive function. The list is so long that I am putting it at the end of this article. Scroll down to the bottom of this article to see a complete list of symptoms and determine if you might have symptoms of breast Implant Illness – Could your implants be making you sick? Please note, this list doesn’t even include the claims from the American Cancer Society that implants can cause cancer!

Does the Kind of Implant Matter?

Although there does not appear to be a difference between how saline & silicone affect people, the implant quality does seem to have an effect. However, breakdown of the implant shell will eventually occur no matter what kind or quality. Some women don’t notice any issues initially, but as the implant ages, so does breakdown and symptoms.  Usually symptoms peak around 6-8 yrs, then progresses faster.

Genetics Might Play a Role

Genetics might play a role in why some people are affected or not affected by implants. It is observed that many people with BII symptoms carry certain genetics such as MTHFR, HLA-B27, HLA-DR52 and HLA-DR53 placing them at greater risk of developing breast implant illness. It is a good idea to look into genetic testing if you are planning to undergo breast augmentation. But my advice is don’t do the implant surgery. I do, however, recommend considering explant surgery if you presently have implants.

Finding an Explant Surgeon

You can reference what to look for in an explant surgeon, questions to ask your potential doctor, and even get a list of top-rated doctors by state in this article.


Recovery Post Explant

Recovery after implant removal, often called an explant, varies for everyone regarding pain (type, intensity and duration), healing from surgery, symptom relief, ability to get back to daily activity, etc.  Your surgeon can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect long term based on your clinical situation and procedure. It is important to look for a doctor that will do an en-bloc procedure to remove the entire capsule.

If you choose to go through with explant surgery, there are a few things that might be good to do before and after.  I recommend:

  1. Nutrient Deficiency Testing:  Although most surgeons will request that you do not take vitamins, minerals and other supplements two weeks prior to surgery, knowing if and what you need to supplement will allow you to purchase products and be prepared to build your body back up post surgery. We can order these tests for you at Nuvitru Wellness and help you find high quality supplements.
  2. Environmental Toxins/HeavyMetals/ Overall Detox:  Diet post surgery is very important! We can also recommend other detoxifying supplements and activities to further promote whole body detox. This step is so important because you most likely got to this point from toxins. Then consider all of that anesthetic and laying around recovering added to the pile. We can help you with detoxifying and what to eat to support your body at Nuvitru Wellness. Testing these toxins can also be very enlightening to see WHAT is burdening your body.

Reconstruction Options

Unfortunately, some people have health issues that require a mastectomy. There are reconstruction options using your own tissue for women with breast cancer who have had breast removal. You can reference the Flap Procedure in this article from the American Cancer Society on breast reconstruction using your own tissue.

Full List of BII Symptoms

  • Fatigue or chronic fatigue
  • Cognitive dysfunction (brain fog, difficulty concentrating, word retrieval, memory loss)
  • Muscle aches, pain, and weakness
  • Joint pain/soreness
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin, eyes, mouth, hair
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Easy bruising & slow wound healing
  • Temperature intolerance
  • Low libido
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Oral thrush (yeasty white tongue)
  • Night sweats
  • Skin rashes
  • Insomnia
  • Estrogen/progesterone imbalance, diminishing hormones, or early menopause
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the breast area, underarms, throat, neck, or groin
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Burning pain around the chest wall or breasts
  • Cold and discolored hands/feet
  • Foul body odor
  • Muscle twitching
  • Vertigo
  • Fevers
  • Dehydration
  • Frequent urination
  • Chronic neck/back pain
  • Photosensitivity
  • Nail changes (cracking, splitting, slow growth, etc.)
  • Skin freckling, pigmentation changes (darkening or white spots), or an increase in papules (flesh colored raised bumps)
  • Edema (swelling) around eyes
  • Premature aging
  • Decline in vision or vision disturbances
  • Muscle weakness/Slow muscle recovery after activity
  • Liver and kidney dysfunction
  • GI/Digestive issues
  • Sudden food intolerances & allergies
  • Smell or chemical sensitivities
  • New or persistent infections – viral, bacterial, and/or fungal (candida)
  • Dormant viruses resurface
  • Good GI bugs like Candida grow out of control
  • Reoccurring sinus, yeast, and UTI infections
  • Throat clearing, cough, difficult swallowing, choking feeling
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Feeling like you are dying
  • Headaches, dizziness, & migraines
  • Mood swings, emotional instability
  • Anxiety, panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Hypo/hyper thyroid symptoms
  • Hypo/hyper adrenal symptoms
  • Symptoms or diagnosis of fibromyalgia
  • Symptoms or diagnosis of lyme
  • Common autoimmune symptoms or diagnoses: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjörgen’s syndrome, Raynaud’s syndrome, Graves disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.

I hope this can help you or someone you know get begin feeling their best!


Avatar for Beth Jameson
Beth Jameson

Beth is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Licensed Dietitian by the State of Texas. She graduated from Iowa State University with her Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. She also earned her Master's in Education from Depaul University. Schedule a call with Beth to upgrade your health - https://nuvitruwellness.com/austinnutritionist-bethjameson/