Breast Implant Illness

Palm Beach Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery listens with compassion to women who suspect they have breast implant illness and offers a total capsulectomy to address breast implant illness and relieve systemic symptoms.

Breast Implant Illness | Call 561-833-4122 | West Palm Beach, FL

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Fredric M. Barr, M.D. | Palm Beach Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery | Call (561) 833-4122

Dr. Barr
M.D., F.A.C.S

Breast Implant Illness in West Palm Beach, Florida

While the medical community continues to investigate the possibility of breast implants causing adverse symptoms, thousands of women worldwide have reported unexplained inflammatory symptoms that they believe are connected to their breast implants.

Among medical professionals, opinions vary as to whether breast implant illness (BII) is an actual illness. At this time, the FDA continues to research the mechanisms, risk factors, and prevalence of breast implant illness symptoms, causes, risks, and frequency of this perplexing disorder.

However, breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) has been directly linked to textured implants.

In alignment with his philosophy of listening with compassion to patients’ concerns and taking them seriously, our Board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Fredric Barr of Palm Beach Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery in West Palm Beach, Florida, decided to stop providing breast implants to patients via breast augmentation in 2019. Studies have shown that the side effects tend to go away after removing the implants with a total capsulectomy.

Commonly Reported Symptoms of Breast Implant Illness (BII)

While breast implant-related illnesses continue to baffle plastic surgeons and the rest of the medical community, an increasing number of women worldwide report certain symptoms, ranging in severity, that they attribute to their breast implants.

While it’s unclear how many women suffer with symptoms of breast implant illness, with over 400,000 women choosing breast implants every year in the United States and many others discussing their breast implant illness stories, their voices deserve to be heard.

The most commonly-reported symptoms of breast implant illness include:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Breathing problems
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Brain fog
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Skin rashes
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Weight changes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Digestive problems

When there is no other potential cause for these health problems, women with breast implants consult plastic surgeons for help and guidance.

Why Do Women Choose to Undergo Breast Augmentation?

There are a myriad of reasons why women choose breast implants, including:

  1. Restore breast volume after pregnancy or weight loss: Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and significant weight loss can reduce the volume and shape of breasts. Breast implants help restore the breasts’ fullness and shape.
  2. Balance asymmetrical breasts: Some women have asymmetrical breasts, with one breast larger or smaller than the other. Breast implants can create a more balanced and symmetrical appearance.
  3. Enhance physical appearance: Breast implants can enhance a woman’s physical appearance, making her feel more attractive.
  4. Fit better in clothing: Women with small breasts may have difficulty finding flattering clothing, particularly swimwear, workout wear, or formalwear. These women often perceive that breast implants help create a more proportionate and attractive silhouette.
  5. Feel more feminine: Larger, fuller breasts help some women feel more feminine and attractive.
  6. Feel more youthful: Breasts can sag or lose volume as women age. Breast implants help create a more youthful and firm appearance.

Types of Breast Implants

There are several types of breast implants, including:

  • Saline: a popular choice for women age 18 or older seeking a breast augmentation. Filled with sterile salt water, saline implants provide a uniform shape, firmness, and feel. If the implant shell leaks, a saline implant will collapse, and the body will absorb and expel the saline.
  • Silicone: silicone gel filled implants feel more natural than other materials used for breast implants. In case of accidental leakage, the silicone gel may remain within the implant’s shell or move into the surrounding breast tissue. Despite the leakage, the implant will not collapse. Women who opt for silicone implants should have regular consultations with a plastic surgeon to ensure the implants’ optimal functioning. Furthermore, women with silicone gel filled implants can undergo an ultrasound or MRI screening to assess the implants’ condition. The FDA approves silicone breast implants for women aged 22 or older, specifically for augmentation.
  • Textured: textured breast implants seek to minimize the chances of undesired movement or repositioning of the implant inside the breast. This type of implant encourages scar tissue development that adheres to the surface of the implants. Potential benefits of this surface texturing include preventing the formation of a tight scar capsule.

The Development of Breast Implant Illness Symptoms

The onset of symptoms is gradual for most breast implant patients who develop breast implant illness. Fatigue, brain fog, and joint pain are among the first manifestations. Frustratingly, women who seek answers for their BII symptoms often experience medical gaslighting from healthcare practitioners who will not acknowledge the debilitating impact of BII symptoms on a woman’s health and quality of life. As a result of this failure to take their complaints seriously and diagnose breast implant illness, many women with BII symptoms suffer in silence with unexplained symptoms such as:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Memory loss
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Skin rashes
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Weight changes
  • Digestive problems

Considering factors like family history and other medical conditions, it’s wise to have a physical examination from a doctor to rule out other causes for these symptoms.

At Palm Beach Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery, we prioritize patient safety. When a patient suspects breast implant illness may be causing their systemic symptoms, we listen and investigate to determine the exact cause. Although there is no official diagnosis yet for breast implant illness, if a woman believes her breast implants are making her sick and she wants her implants removed, we support her in making the best choice based on her personal or family history, and her individual preferences.

Our BII Warriors inspire us every day to provide women with the encouragement information they need to understand breast implant illness symptoms and their available options. We urge all breast implant illness doctors to listen to their patients and raise awareness about the symptoms of breast implant illness.

How Is Breast Implant Illness Diagnosed?

Breast implant illness nearly defies diagnosis because of the lack of standardized diagnostic criteria, variability of symptoms, and the length of time it can take for BII symptoms to manifest. Doctors unfamiliar with the common symptoms of BII may disregard patients’ concerns — or worse, they might suggest that the patient’s underlying condition is only psychological, and not physical. Consequently, too many women dealing with chronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain, autoimmune diseases, and all of the other conditions we mentioned never receive an official medical diagnosis. This lack of diagnosis and proper treatment prolongs their suffering and forces them to undergo unnecessary medical treatments.

If you suspect you have breast implant illness, find a knowledgeable and experienced Board-certified plastic surgeon who can listen to your concerns and advise a treatment plan.

Breast implant removal or explantation is still the only known solution for alleviating and eliminating the symptoms of breast implant illness, and the only way to confirm an official medical diagnosis of breast implant illness. However, breast implant removal is a complex surgery that demands thoughtful consideration and discussion with a knowledgeable and experienced plastic surgeon.

Should I Have My Breast Implants Removed with Breast Implant Surgery?

Breast Implant Illness remains a source of controversy that has made many women feel uncertain and helpless. Although we still do not have nearly enough medical research on breast implant illness, some women report a decrease or elimination of symptoms following the removal of their breast implants.

In response to patients who request a surgical procedure to remove their implants after a thorough discussion with Dr. Barr, he performs a comprehensive surgical removal that involves removing the implants and the scar tissue surrounding them.

Are you coping with BII symptoms and considering breast implant removal? During your consultation with our patient counselor and Dr. Barr, we will put you at ease, listen to your concerns, and share everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

Why is En Bloc Such a BuzzWord in Social Media Groups?

En bloc is a French term that means “all together.” This term refers to a procedure that removes a tumor with a margin of uninvolved tissue when suspicions of malignancy or cancer exist. If a patient does not have a malignancy, we do not recommend en bloc for the removal of breast implants. As noted by the National Library of Medicine, en bloc is primarily recommended for treating breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

However, thanks to social media groups, patients made en bloc a buzzword for breast implant explantation, causing the public to erroneously attribute an en bloc procedure as a solution for breast implant illness symptoms, rather than a specific treatment for anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

How Does A Total Capsulectomy Resolve the Symptoms of Breast Implant Illness?

A total capsulectomy removes scar tissue surrounding the implant and the implant itself. When possible, Dr. Barr removes the capsule in one piece. Unlike an en bloc capsulectomy, a total capsulectomy does not remove additional tissue beyond the scar capsule and implant. A total capsulectomy could be the right surgical procedure for women who attribute their symptoms to breast implant illness. In a total capsulectomy, Dr. Barr removes the entire capsule.

Have debilitating symptoms negatively impacted your life? Are you wondering if this surgery could provide you relief? Our West Palm Beach plastic surgeon can recommend the right protocol for you, based on your unique situation.

What Can I Expect During a Total Capsulectomy?

Dr. Barr performs the surgery with the patient under general anesthesia to ensure safety and comfort. He then makes an incision to access the capsule and remove the implant. The incision’s location depends on each patient’s particular case and unique anatomy. Next, Dr. Barr carefully dissects and removes the scar tissue capsule surrounding the implant before removing the breast implant. After removing all offending material, including the breast implant and capsule, he uses a jet pulsation lavage connected to an IV in a triple antibiotic wash of the entire area to ensure cleanliness. Finally, Dr. Barr closes the incision with sutures.

What is Recovery Like Following Surgery?

After the total capsulectomy, we monitor the patient in the recovery area before releasing them to go home. It’s common for patients to experience some discomfort, swelling, and bruising after the procedure. Dr. Barr will provide specific post-operative care instructions, including limitations on physical activity and the use of supportive garments. We schedule the patient for follow-up appointments to observe the healing process. Complete recovery from a total capsulectomy may take several weeks, during which we advise the patient to follow all post-operative care guidelines and attend scheduled visits with Dr. Barr.

During your consultation, we will discuss your concerns and goals, explaining the surgical process to help you fully understand how it works, its potential risks, and expected outcomes specific to your situation.

FAQs About Breast Implant Illness

1. What Is Breast Implant Illness?

Breast implant illness refers to a range of symptoms and health issues that some individuals attribute to their breast implants. These symptoms may include fatigue, joint pain, cognitive issues, and other systemic symptoms.

2. What Are The Common Symptoms Associated With Breast Implant Illness?

Common symptoms reported by individuals who believe they have breast implant illness include fatigue, chest pain, hair loss, headaches, chills, photosensitivity, chronic pain, rash, body odor, anxiety, brain fog, and sleep disturbance, among others.

3. What Is The Process For Diagnosing Breast Implant Illness?

Diagnosing breast implant illness can be challenging, as the symptoms are nonspecific and may overlap with other health conditions. Implant removal via a total capsulectomy is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of breast implant illness. Patients who suspect they have BII should seek a thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider, including a detailed medical history, examination, and possibly additional testing.

4. What Are The Potential Treatment Options For Breast Implant Illness?

Treatment for breast implant illness involves removing the breast implants and any surrounding scar tissue through a procedure known as explantation or total capsulectomy. After removal, patients may experience relief from their symptoms, although individual outcomes can vary.

5. How Do I Know If My Breast Implants Are Causing My Symptoms?

Consult a qualified healthcare provider, such as a plastic surgeon experienced in breast implant illness cases, who can conduct a thorough assessment and provide personalized guidance based on your specific situation.

6. What Is Involved In The Explantation (Total Capsulectomy) Procedure?

Explantation via total capsulectomy involves the surgical removal of the breast implant and the surrounding scar tissue capsule. A plastic surgeon performs this procedure while the patient is under general anesthesia. Patients can expect a recovery period following the surgery.

7. Does Insurance Cover A Total Capsulectomy?

Health insurance coverage for a total capsulectomy can vary, depending on the specific circumstances and the policies of individual health insurance providers. Coverage eligibility is often contingent on factors such as the patient’s medical condition, the presence of complications like capsular contracture or implant rupture, and the health insurance company’s determination of medical necessity. Consult your health insurance provider to understand the specifics of your coverage and seek guidance from your healthcare professionals to navigate the insurance process.

Could Breast Implant Illness Be Causing Your Unexplained Symptoms? Contact Palm Beach Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery for Compassionate Care

At Palm Beach Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery, we believe in three basic principles: understanding the unique needs of each patient, providing each patient with the utmost care and compassion, and making sure no question or issue goes unaddressed. When you experience symptoms you suspect could be related to implant illness, you deserve to be heard. Contact us at (561) 833-4122(561) 833-4122 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. We’re here to listen, help, and guide you to the solution that is right for you.

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