Breast implant illness can encompass a wide range of symptoms. These can vary from a redness and swelling and move all the way into having discharge and even a development of symptoms for autoimmune disease. There is no timeline to when these can start to occur. They have been seen to happen within days of having the implant surgery up to experiencing issues 10 years after the fact.
" Dr. Brenner is a expert in explant removal for Bii and has a Bii Patient Liason to help his patients work through their preparation for surgery and their healing process. "
What causes breast implant illness?
One of the most popular cosmetic surgical procedures for a woman has been a breast augmentation. This is accomplished by using a silicone or saline implant to help shape and enhance a woman’s breast. There are thousands of women that are very happy with their breast implants and has resulted in enhancing some women’s appearance, confidence and self-esteem.
As the most popular surgical cosmetic procedure in the United States, in 2018 alone there were more than 300,000 performed. This procedure is usually viewed as a safe procedure, but one has to understand that it is a surgical procedure, and so with that fact, there can always be potential risks and complications.
Recently, there has been quite a buzz around patients who have received this procedure concerning a non-specific disease labeled as “breast implant illness” (or "BII" or “bii”). There is not a medical diagnosis of the condition and it can widely vary between patients, this is most likely due to genetic factors.
Although there is no exact medical evidence that breast implants cause any of these disease conditions, a majority of patients remained fixated on associating these symptoms to the implants in their bodies. There is also an additional idea that these symptoms may be associated with bacteria colonizing in the area of the implant and resulting in the possibility of a sub-clinical infection.
What are the symptoms of breast implant illness?
As more and more doctors treat these patients, the list of symptoms and conditions have grown:
- numbness and tingling of the breast and extremities,
- breast pain
- feeling like they are in a ‘fog,’
- memory difficulties,
- fertility issues,
- muscle aches and joint pains
- Blood clots
- Scar tissue build up
- The shape and volume of the breast changing or disfiguring
- A discharge from the nipple
Most patients who come in with these types of issues (usually after a long and comprehensive evaluation by their primary care doctor that rules out other more likely and serious illnesses) often request to have their implants removed. They also usually ask to have their breast capsules removed as well and a large number of patients have reported improvement in their symptoms following such a procedure, though results vary in every patient.
Can breast implant illness actually be treated?
BII can absolutely be addressed. A lot of patients first look to their general practitioners for advice and this obviously would be understandable. However, even if you have the best general practitioner in the US, he definitely does not have the education and expertise of a board-certified plastic surgeon to see that certain symptoms can potentially be the result of your breast implants. And he certainly will not have exact solutions to address the condition if he is not exactly addressing the actual cause of the problems.
If breast implant illness looks to be the source of your symptoms, a plastic surgeon such as Dr. Kevin Brenner should be contacted. He can determine what the next step would be, this could be the removal of the implants. This is also called an explantation and is the exact procedure of a full breast implant removal.
If you think you are experiencing any of the above issues, please contact Dr. Brenner to schedule a consultation.
After almost a year of research to find the right doctor to do my explant surgery after hearing about BII, I finally found one. Dr. Brenner came highly recommended by a friend and with some research of my own, I made the decision to have a consultation with him.
I had to be vulnerable about the last 10 years of how I was feeling. Hearing the empathy and concern in his voice made me feel heard.
Shortly there after I scheduled my surgery as soon as I could- within 2 months.
Dr. Brenner's staff between his patience coordinator, his BII liaison, nurses and anesthesia provider all made me feel so supported. I had a team of support and felt calm an right in my decision. The compassion and understanding about BII from everyone on Dr. Brenner's staff made me feel like they understood. His Bii Liaison checked in with me every step of the way and guided me with what to expect and settled my nerves. There were very few days I felt pain or felt uncomfortable and
already the joint pain that I had for almost 10 years has subsided. I also love the way my new breastslook already and it has only been a month since explant/lift. From setting up my consultation to meeting Dr.Brenner and his team to my surgery was seamless. I am so pleased with my end result and how much better I feel and I am truly grateful.
JJ Los Angeles, CA
I had the same set of symptom-free, over-the-muscle saline implants from 1994 until May 2018 when one ruptured. The OC surgeon I went to for help and advice would not explore explant with me, even though I was open to having them removed in 2018. He convinced me I would be “deflated, unhappy, like a mastectomy patient.” Against my better judgment and own intuition, I followed his advice and replaced them with textured silicone implants under the muscle.
I awoke from surgery with immediate, frightening symptoms. I repeatedly told the recovery nurses I could not breathe. They repeatedly told me I was fine and sent me home. At home, I could not fall asleep at all or eat. I lost 11 pounds in 3 weeks and eventually lost my physical and emotional health. My implant PS saw me at the 24 hour mark, listened to my symptoms, and then never voluntarily contacted me again.
I started an endless series of visits to Kaiser to try to recover with these implants inside me. I saw 14 different doctors in regular offices, urgent care and the ER. I was prescribed 6 medications and had 4 sets of x-rays, a CT scan, a psychiatric visit and 5150 hold, several hormone and vitamin panels, complete blood work every few months, an overnight sleep test and an eye exam.
I had the following symptoms for 10 months, until Dr. Brenner and explant surgery restored my health: severe insomnia, weight loss resulting in an underweight diagnosis, dizziness, blurry vision, pain around ribs and underarms, itching and rash on torso, limited mobility in my left arm, sensitivity to smell and light, sensitivity to heat and cold, inability to be in crowded places, constant crying, suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, panic and constant anxiety, stomach aches, adrenaline rushes, fatigue, low blood pressure, inability to work or drive a car, iron deficiency, high heart rate, hair loss, and brain fog. I missed an entire month of work before I started several expensive alternative holistic therapies that partially restored my health.
During the worst and lowest time of my breast implant illness, I discovered a whole community of women with the same symptoms, calling it BII. I had never heard of BII until 6 weeks after my silicone replacement implants. I knew at that time my implants had to come out. I found Dr. Kevin Brenner on a website called Real Self where women were praising his kindness and surgical skill. I scheduled a phone consult with him on Facetime, as I was too ill to drive to Beverly Hills. During our initial consult, Dr. Brenner kindly listened to my symptoms. He was hesitant to agree that they were caused by my implants. He advised me that another surgery six weeks later would be hard on my body. He thought I might be having a hard time adjusting to the implants under instead of over the muscle. He urged me to give it some time.
At that point, I embraced an expensive, healing lifestyle that included CBT, EMDR, and hypnotherapy, energy healing, acupuncture and Chinese herbs, homeopathy, yoga, whole foods and juices, gym workouts, nature cures, meditation, and over-the-counter medications, herbs, and supplements. I forced myself back to work. I got an after school job to pay for all the healing activities. I worked for six long months to heal my mind and body. And I did get about 50% better. But I was not as healthy as I was prior to silicone implants.
On March 20, 2019, I came across a Facebook post about FDA hearings concerning breast implants. That changed everything. I found another group of 75,000 women with my exact same symptoms and I knew I would be explanting as soon as school was out. I met with Dr. Brenner in person that week and paid my surgical deposit.
My experience with Dr. Brenner and his staff has been such a complete opposite of my experience with my implant PS. Dr. Brenner never suggested new implants or implied that I would look deformed after explant. He did recommend a lift, which I ultimately declined due to additional scars and risk. I felt my poor breasts had been through enough trauma.
One very helpful thing Dr. Brenner let me do was to talk to another explant patient of his who had the surgery in February 2019. His patient, Amanda, initially spent more than an hour with me on the phone answering all my questions. After I talked to her, I was 100% certain I was making the right decision and a lot of the anxiety that had plagued me for months melted away. Amanda stayed in contact with me for the next two months until my surgery. She monitored me through my surgery and has stayed available for help even now as I write this.
I also connected by chance with another of Dr. Brenner’s explant patients on Facebook. She calls Dr. Brenner “a life saver.” We exchanged messages before my surgery, which helped to further reassure me.
My surgery was so seamless and positive- it’s hard to explain how different it was from implant! Rosie, the surgical nurse, was exactly the right person to calm me the morning of explant. I can’t share what we discussed, but her words were so helpful. Dave, the anesthesiologist, could not have been more reassuring. I asked him to use the least amount of drugs possible to keep me comfortable because I had previously had a hard time awakening from surgery. I woke up so happy and easy from his skillful administration of medicine. Jihan, his nurse, assisted me with paperwork, medical tests, questions, stitches, and so much more over the two months prior to surgery and two weeks after.
I healed so quickly, I walked to Starbucks 20 hours after waking up in recovery. I drove myself to follow up appointments. I went back to work 12 days later. I resumed gym workouts at 8 weeks. I have not had a single complication. My scars are perfectly placed under my natural breast and are almost invisible. All parties agree a lift wasn’t necessary due to Dr. Brenner’s skillful explant and tissue preservation. Dr. Brenner helped me get my quality of life back by removing toxic implants and two sets of capsules. I feel amazing! Thank you!