The breast implant market is booming. Women worldwide are spending $820 million a year on breast augmentation and the demand is growing. While 80% of breast implants are for cosmetic reasons and the remainder for reconstructive reasons, each presents risks to your health.
I realize this is a touchy subject. I am not here to judge but simply to inform you about some facts. Women who have breast implants because of Breast Cancer have been through a lot of pain and agony going through the surgeries and treatments. Others simply chose to have them in order to touch up their breast shape and size. In all cases, the decision has an impact physically and many times emotionally.
Think of an implant like a sliver underneath your skin. It is a foreign substance that the body naturally wants to reject and this may cause stress to your Immune System. However, for some women, reconstruction after a mastectomy is important to them. They want to regain what they feel they have lost as a result of the surgery.
It’s important that you are aware of all risks even though some may be associated with a particular type of implant or surgery. Knowledge will result in a healthier discussion with your doctor and an improved ability to better manage your overall well-being.
The risks linked to breast implants
An implant is designed using a strong silicone elastomer shell that’s filled with either a saline or silicone gel solution. According to The Mayo Clinic, saline and silicone gel, which is used for breast reconstruction, both pose similar risks:
- Potentially permanent changes in nipple or breast sensation
- Scar tissue that distorts the shape
- Leakage or rupture
- Need for additional surgery
According to the National Cancer Institute, women with implants were three times more likely to die from respiratory tract cancer, two to three times more likely to die from brain cancer, and four to five times more likely to die from suicide”. NCI researchers also found an increased risk of certain connective tissue diseases, such as a doubling in rheumatoid arthritis, and even greater increases in lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Some other risks you should know about
- Your body’s potential rejection. Capsular contracture is the most common complication associated with implantation. Basically, the body looks at the silicone elastomer shell as a foreign object and scar tissue forms around it. It is rejected by the immune system in 11% of all cases and surgical intervention is required in the majority of them. Capsular contracture may also indicate low-grade bacterial infections related to the implant procedure or the implants themselves.
- A rare but treatable cancer. Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a rare cancer involving the immune system that may be associated with implants. In the known cases linked to implants, the lymphoma grew in the capsule of scar tissue around the implant and was treated by removing the implant and scar tissue. Some women also underwent chemotherapy and radiation.This type of lymphoma in the breast is normally found in three in 100 million women without implants. In comparison, it has been found in 60 in the 5-10 million women with implants. Even though the FDA has acknowledged the heightened risk, any association between breast implants and cancer is concerning.
- Psychological impacts. A study looked at five large epidemiologic mortality studies and found that the suicide mortality rate doubled among women with cosmetic implants. While the study noted the pre-implant psychiatric disorders among this group of women often include body image issues, depression and eating disorders, it makes sense that anyone suffering with a body image issue would benefit from emotional support.
- High levels of Platinum – Platinum is used to turn silicon into a softer, honey-like liquid which makes the implants feel softer. The problem is that Platinum is highly toxic and women with implants had three times the levels of platinum compared to women without implants. This metal can cause respiratory and skin allergies.
- Breast Implants may make it more difficult to detect future cancers. Although Mammography is routinely used, the good news is that Thermography may also help detect inflammation in the area of concern.
- According to the FDA, and the manufacturers’ own data, nearly ALL implants fail sooner or later. Many women, therefore, require corrective surgery within a few years. Patients with failed implants report and increase in joint and muscle pain as well as chronic fatigue.
Where do you go from here?
If you are considering breast implants, I highly encourage you to do your own research, ask lots of questions of yourself and your caregivers, and make an informed decision that will make sense for you over the long-term. And, if you are a reconstructive surgery candidate, don’t be afraid to consider no reconstruction. I encourage you to read this wonderful article , “Going Flat: Choosing No Reconstruction” posted on BreastCancer.org’s website. It encourages you to learn to be comfortable with your body if you choose no reconstruction. “I don’t care what they take from you as long as I can see your face,” is a common sentiment from partners of Breast Cancer Conquerors.
Embrace your magnificence and your scars – you are beautiful inside and out.
No matter what path you choose, be sure that you have a plan on how you will incorporate reducing your toxic exposure and healing your emotional wounds. Balance of body, mind and spirit is the bottom line for good health.
“Dr. Veronique Desaulniers, better known as Dr. V, is the founder of The 7 Essentials System ™, a step-by-step guide that teaches you exactly how to prevent and heal Breast Cancer Naturally. To get your F.R.E.E. 7 day mini e-course, and to receive her inspiring articles on the power of Natural Medicine, visit http://breastcancerconqueror.com/.”
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