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Breast Implant Illness

Breast implants - a topic not often discussed open but with the recent FDA issued black box warning be put on all breast implants, it’s time we start talking about it. According to Dr. Marissa Lawrence, a double board-certified plastic surgeon, "that's the strongest warning by the FDA that a product carries the risk of serious injury or death.”

The FDA’s labeling guidance comes after an advisory panel heard from dozens of women who say their breast implants made them sick. This “sick” is labeled as breast implant illness (BII) and is a term that some women and doctors use to refer to a wide range of symptoms that can develop after undergoing reconstruction or cosmetic augmentation with breast implants. BII can occur with any type of breast implant, including silicone gel-filled, saline-filled, smooth surface, textured surface, round, or teardrop-shaped.

I can attest firsthand. In 1988, I was a bodybuilder and went on to compete as a powerlifter. At that time, I made the decision to get silicone implants to improve my game. After a rupture from my first mammogram and hearing the horror stories of silicone implants causing cancer, I researched and found that women with silicone gel-filled breast implants that had ruptured were significantly more likely to have fibromyalgia, polymyositis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, pulmonary fibrosis, and eosinophilic fasciitis.

I knew I had to explant and after numerous discussions with my husband and my plastic surgeon, I decided to explant and implant with saline implants. Little did I know that this decision would totally destroy my health.

My symptoms did not appear immediately after surgery — it was about five years later that I started noticing hair loss, chronic fatigue, dry eyes and skin problems. I chalked it up to aging, menopause and possible thyroid issues. A thermogram showed inflammation surrounding my thyroid so I decided to run a few labs to see if my thyroid numbers were out of range, not even considering that these toxic implants could be the root cause of my symptoms.

I spent the next few years studying thyroid, hormones and breast implant illness. I then became a Cancer Wellness Specialist and an FDN-Practitioner to that I could continue to learn from my colleagues and help other women who had a similar experience to mine. I, almost immediately, found that infection appears to be a huge problem with the saline implant population that becomes ill. The infection can be around the implant where bacteria or fungi are found in the implant with a valve leak.

Women who became ill from mold in or around their smooth saline breast implants experience what is called biotoxicity, a condition resulting from mold growing inside or around leaking saline implants. My yearly thermograms were showing an increase in inflammation throughout my body. A warning sign that these toxic bags were indeed wreaking havoc on my health. I then went on to becoming a Clinical Thermographer determined to educate those that had or were interested in getting breast implants.

Historically, breast implant illness has been tough to diagnose, but with a growing number of cases, the medical community is now taking it much more seriously. And now that the FDA has placed a black box warning on these devices, it’s time to educate those women about the harm that these implants can do the body.

If you’ve observed any warning signs of breast implant illness, please seek medical help right away. My personal advice, if you’re considering undergoing breast implant surgery, make sure you’re fully aware of what’s at stake.

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