Breast Implant Illness and Its Prevalence in the Media
You may not have heard of it, but concerns regarding “Breast Implant Illness” have become more pressing over the past year due to increased media coverage. Notably, Crystal Hefner (Playboy model and wife of Hugh Hefner) posted on Instagram and Facebook about her battle with this condition and her decision to have her implants removed.
Her posts received a combined total of more than 50,000 likes and even more shares across social media. Her story was picked up by various news and entertainment outlets—including Forbes, People, and the Huffington Post.
So, What is Breast Implant Illness?
While we can’t really provide a clear answer, we’ll elaborate on both sides.
Various message boards, community sites, and online groups (like the ones Hefner references in her posts) include the following as possible symptoms of Breast Implant Illness:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Cognitive dysfunction (memory loss, brain fog)
- Bladder pain
- Recurring infections
- Autoimmune conditions
However, a study published in 2016 reveals that there is no proven connection between breast implants and long-term health outcomes. There is a possibility that the condition is a psychosomatic disorder—meaning that it can be caused entirely or made worse just by thinking about it.
Someone suffering from a condition like this may not be making up or exaggerating their symptoms. The symptoms are often very real. They’re just not typically caused by any physical health problems.
The Risks Associated with Breast Implants & Related Plastic Surgery
Breast implants (both saline and silicone) are approved by the FDA for safety and effectiveness. They are made from materials that are designed not to be rejected by the body. Even if an implant ruptures, it can exist safely within the body until it can be removed (for aesthetic/convenience reasons).
However, as with any type of surgery, you may encounter some risks. According to the FDA, complications may occur in approximately 1% of breast implant patients. These may include:
- Breast pain
- Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes
- Nipple or breast sensation changes
Ways to Reduce Your Risks of Complication with Breast Implants (Or Any Plastic Surgery)
Now, with all of that being said, it’s important to realize that breast implants do carry some risks. Here are a couple of tips to help you minimize your risks and ensure your safety:
1. Choose a reputable surgeon for your plastic surgery.
When it comes to surgery, you shouldn’t be looking for the cheapest rate available. Instead, look for a Board-certified surgeon who has experience with breast implants. You should be able to find out about their education, training, and experience. Some doctors will provide you with testimonials (written or visual) from past patients to help ease your concerns.
2. Stay in contact with your plastic surgeon after getting breast implants.
Breast implants—depending on the manufacturer and other factors—have an average lifespan of 10–20 years. Because of this, you will want to get them checked out every few years to ensure they are safe and not at risk of rupture. Additionally, keeping in contact with your doctor will give you a resource, should you notice anything abnormal about your implants.
If you have any concerns about your existing breast implants or are interested in enhancing your breasts through plastic surgery, give us a call. We’ll be happy to address your concerns via email, phone, or during an in-person consultation at either of our locations.
We welcome you to meet our Chief Medical Officer and plastic surgeon, Dr. Joseph Greco III. He is Board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and leads our cosmetic surgery team. Dr. Greco, alongside our medical team, is committed to helping you achieve your aesthetic goals in the safest way possible.