I was reading an interesting discussion column the other day on a Florida news site and because it is topical I will mention it to you. the topic was breast implant removal surgery( explants) and it concerned a woman who sent a query on this topic to the ‘Dear Dr Kally' page. Her question was the following:
‘I have had breast implants for seven years and recently I have been noticing fatigue and stiffness in my joints. I have been reading about Breast Implant Illness on the internet and wondering if that is the cause of my symptoms. Do you think removing my implants will make my joints feel better?'
This and similar questions have been raised quite a lot of late and have led to a trend for ‘explants' both amongst the Glitterati Celebs and regular women like this. Dr Kelly's answer is probably worth quoting from since it does allow for the possibility of bad long term side effects from breast implants – a suggestion that is often put to one side by an industry fuelled by social media enthusiasts.
Dr Kelly says:
‘Breast Implant Illness (BII) is a term that has been trending on the internet for a few years. BII is thought to cause a variety of symptoms, including joint and muscle pain, chronic fatigue, memory and concentration problems, breathing problems, sleep disturbances, rash and skin problems, dry mouth and dry eyes, anxiety, depression, headaches, hair loss and gastrointestinal problems. ‘
He does, however, qualify this by saying:
‘BII is not currently recognized as a medical diagnosis and there is no medical diagnosis code for it.'
This is against a backdrop of an industry that is poised to grow by USD 1.01 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of almost 9% during the forecast period. The average cost of breast implant removal surgery is $2,641, according to 2019 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Indeed, the marketing for implant removal surgery is just as slick as the marketing for putting them in in the first place. A typical benefit touted on clinic websites is
‘ Breast implants can and will age over time. It’s recommended for you to every 10 years.
However, that’s an expensive cost that isn’t covered by your insurance either. Having breast implant removal surgery means you don’t have to worry about replacing your implants every time they get old….'
Removal of implants is obviously, a surgical procedure so there is always the risk of scarring at the points of the incision. Also, there is a risk, albeit quite small, of post-operation infection which can increase the time for healing. Many women will also need to think about the loss of sensitivity in the area. If the original implant did not affect the sensitivity in the nipples then it is possible that the breast implant removal surgery might do that very thing, which could be an important cautionary point. Naturally, these are things you will need to discuss at depth, with your surgeon should you choose to get breast implant removal surgery.
Dr Kelly's final thoughts are intelligent and compassionate. He says:
‘I always tell these patients that I can’t promise them their symptoms will disappear if we take out their implants. But at the end of the day, they put implants in to feel better about themselves and enjoy the look. If they now feel that the implants are causing symptoms and making them unhappy, the right decision is to remove them.'