Breast Implant Awareness Month

Risk versus benefits of breast implants. Do you have breast implants? Are you considering getting breast implants? Over 10 million women worldwide have breast implants (American Society of Plastic Surgery (2020)). Well, it’s Breast Implant Awareness month, and if you have or are considering breast implants you need to do your homework. Let me help you get started with your research.

Seeking out information can provide valuable insight into your decision-making. You want to consider the risks, type of implant, and how they can affect your overall health. Areas to research include breastfeeding, mammograms, breast reconstruction, insurance, and symptoms. In 2006, the FDA recognized that there were limited data on the rare events and long-term outcomes with regards to silicone gel-filled breast implants. Studies were started on several populations.

Informed Consent

Informed consent laws protect women and include:

  • Surgeon follow-up for a minimum of 10 years
  • Implant and capsule need to be removed every 12-15 years; implants are not a lifetime device
  • Will you be able to have mammograms? Or maybe you can only have Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), or Thermography?
  • You should be provided with a list of the ingredients of the shell of all implants
  • Advising patients of the Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIL-ALCL), a cancer of the immune system
  • The requirement that surgeons test for autoimmune illnesses prior to implanting

Informed consent laws were passed for breast implants in 2018. Remember, breast augmentation is not covered by insurance (this does not apply to reconstruction). Any follow up, such as the MRI, will be out of pocket. Tick off all the boxes when you do your research.

Risks

Known risks of breast surgery include:

  • Risks of requiring additional surgeries
  • Capsular contraction (scar tissue that squeezes the implant)
  • Breast pain
  • Systemic symptoms, commonly referred to as Breast Implant Illness (BII).
  • Rupture (either deflation or silent rupture)
  • Infection

Breast Implant Illness

I recommend reading the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations on what to know about breast implants. It is available in English and Spanish. Additionally, go to BreastCancer.org and read What is Breast Implant Illness? BII is a term used by some women and doctors’ to refer to the wide range of symptoms that can develop after undergoing reconstructive or cosmetic augmentation with breast implants. BreastCancer.org answers the following questions:

  • Number of cases of BII
  • Diagnosis of BII
  • Treatment of BII
  • Outcomes after implant removal to treat BII
  • Who may be at risk of developing BII?
  • Emerging research on BII
  • Outcomes after implant removal to treat BII
  • Who may be at risk for developing BII?
  • What causes BII?
  • Emerging research on BII
  • What all this may mean for you

Breast Implant Awareness month is real and if you have implants or are considering getting implants, I recommend you gather and research the risks versus the benefits. So, while everyone wants to look good and feel confident you need to decide if it is worth the risk. You can find the links in the references below. Feel free to ask questions and leave comments.

References

American Society of Plastic Surgery. (2020). 2020 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report. Retrieved 03/2022, from www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2020/plastic-surgery-statistics-full-report-2020.pdf

BreastCancer.Org. (2022). What is Breast Implant Illness? Retrieved 3/2022, from www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/breast_reconstruction/types/implant-reconstruction/illness/breast-implant-illness

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Sharon Zell NP