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Breast Implant Illness

Advances in the development and manufacture of breast implants have made it possible for many women around the world to achieve their cosmetic enhancement goals with results that successfully last for several years and produce no complications. With that in mind, it is important to understand that breast implants are not designed to be permanent, and will likely need to be removed and replaced (depending on the patient’s needs and wishes) at some point later in life, and in some cases, removed altogether.

Additionally, some women who have had breast implants report a variety of symptoms that some scientists believe may be an inflammatory response to the implants themselves. This is sometimes referred to as “breast implant illness,” or BII. The illness has a constellation of symptoms, such as fatigue, joint and muscle pain, breast discomfort, and some other vague symptoms that are not explained by other causes. In these cases, removal of the implants En Bloc (all together) with the capsular tissue (scar tissue around the implant) is recommended.

For individuals who believe they are suffering from breast implant illness and are considering breast implant removal, as well as for those who would simply like to have their implants removed or removed and replaced with new implants, Dr. Semira Bayati can help. Our board-certified plastic surgeon is highly experienced with breast implant removal and revision breast augmentation procedures. Dr. Bayati can create a customized treatment plan that will take all of your unique needs, concerns, and goals into account.

What Is Breast Implant Illness?

Breast implant illness is the term often used to describe a collection of symptoms that some individuals experience after they have breast implants placed. While many women have breast implants with no lingering effects that make them sick, a relatively small percentage of women have reported symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, a dry sensation all over the body, rashes, cognitive issues such as memory loss or lack of mental clarity (“brain fog”), and aching muscles and joints. While there have yet to be many large and long-term clinical studies of this phenomenon, some doctors believe it is possible that some of these individuals are having an autoimmune response or another type of adverse reaction to the implants, which are considered a foreign body by the immune system. There have been cases where women who say they had breast implant illness claim that their symptoms were resolved once the implants were taken out.

If you believe you are suffering from breast implant illness, please contact Dr. Bayati. Our plastic surgeon can answer any questions you may have about breast implant removal procedures that can address your concerns.

How Common Is Breast Implant Illness?

While there is still great debate in the scientific community about breast implant illness and the potential relation of reported symptoms to the breast implants themselves, a large number of women have recently been speaking out on social media regarding their belief that they suffer from the condition. If you are suffering from unexplained symptoms that you believe are associated with breast implants, please contact our practice.

What Are Some of the Reasons for Breast Implant Removal?

Breast implant illness is just one of the reasons why women consider removing their breast implants. Additional reasons include:

  • Recurrent capsular contracture is the main indication for revision/removal surgery
  • Rupture of the implant
  • To address general aesthetic dissatisfaction with the implants
  • To address irregularities in the position or symmetry of the implants
  • To address concerns about BIA-ALCL (described in its section below) or other potential general health risks
  • To address breast changes after pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • To stop the maintenance of the silicone implants—which include MRI scans 3 years after insertion and every 2 years thereafter—and the advised exchange of implants every 10-15 years.

Some individuals also choose to have their breast implants removed simply because they would like to go back to the size they were before they had breast augmentation. Sometimes, a breast lift (mastopexy) is advised to correct the ptosis/drooping of the breast after removal of the implants.

Regardless of the specific reason, Dr. Bayati is committed to providing a compassionate and thorough approach for breast implant removal procedures. She has always performed En Bloc removal for ruptured silicone implants in her practice, so she is adept in this technique, which is advised for removal of implants in patients with BII. Dr. Bayati will be happy to answer any questions you may have about what to expect from this procedure.

What Is En Bloc Capsulectomy?

En Bloc Capsulectomy is a breast implant removal technique that involves the simultaneous removal of both the implant and the capsule surrounding it. The phrase “en bloc” is a French term meaning “as a whole.” Sometimes referred to as a “total capsulectomy,” the En Bloc Capsulectomy technique can often be particularly ideal for patients who have breast implants that have ruptured, as well as for those who have implants that are affected by capsular contracture, and is now recommended in patients with BII or those who suffer from ALCL (the rare cancer that has been linked to breast implants).

Whenever any kind of foreign object, such as a breast implant, is introduced into the body, there is a natural response that develops to try and protect both the object and the body itself. In the case of breast implants, this response results in the creation of a capsule that completely surrounds the implant. Over time, this capsule may become extremely tight or thick with scar tissue, making the breast tissue around the implant feel hard and even painful, in some cases. An En Bloc Capsulectomy is designed to remove as much of the capsule and scar tissue along with the implant as possible. This is equally important for patients who have ruptured silicone breast implants. When a silicone implant ruptures, it may have leaked inside the capsule while the capsule itself remains intact. En Bloc resection of the ruptured implant with its containing capsule reduces the risk of silicone spill into the breast tissue, which is difficult to remove and will make mammographic imaging difficult to decipher and less effective in finding possible malignancy.

Dr. Bayati has been utilizing the En Bloc Capsulectomy technique in breast implant removal procedures for many years and is extensively experienced with this procedure. She will explain all aspects of the surgery during the initial consultation and address any questions or concerns you may have.

What Does Breast Implant Removal Surgery Involve?

Dr. Bayati will customize the breast implant removal procedure and tailor her surgical approach to your unique needs and goals. In many cases, the breast implants can be removed via the same incisions used for their initial placement. This is beneficial in that no new incisions are created, thereby avoiding any additional scarring. Breast implant removal surgery can typically be performed as an outpatient and does not generally require an overnight stay at the hospital.

Many individuals choose to have the breast implants removed altogether; however, some patients opt to have them replaced with new implants. In these cases, the new implants can often be placed in the same procedure. Some women may also choose to have a breast lift in tandem with the breast implant removal treatment. This can be advantageous for patients who would like to address any loose, inelastic breast tissue that may be present after the implants are removed. Breast lift surgery can reduce signs of sagginess and give the breasts a firmer appearance after explantation. Dr. Bayati can talk more with you about this option if it is something you are interested in pursuing.

What Should I Expect During Recovery from Breast Implant Removal?

Each individual may experience a somewhat different recovery process depending on the breast implant removal technique that was performed and one’s unique anatomical needs. With that in mind, most of our breast implant removal patients are able to resume some of their normal daily activities within one week following the treatment—often after only a few days. Surgical drains are usually required after removal of breast implants with capsular tissue. Drains typically stay in for 7-14 days depending on the individual.

Temporary side effects include swelling and bruising in the breast areas, which should diminish over the ensuing weeks. Post-operative discomfort can be managed with medication. It is important that patients remember to avoid any strenuous activities for at least six weeks following breast implant removal surgery, and to wear compressive bras to allow contraction of the breast tissue. Dr. Bayati will talk with you about what you can expect during recovery and provide you with precise instructions that can help make the process as safe, smooth, and comfortable as possible.

What Is BIA-ALCL (Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma)?

Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, commonly referred to as BIA-ALCL, is an extremely rare type of cancer that researchers have discovered may have a possible association with particular kinds of breast implants. BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer—it is actually a cancer of the immune system. When detected in early stages, the chances of being cured may increase dramatically if the implants and surrounding capsule are removed. Although it is still a very rare phenomenon, most of those afflicted with BIA-ALCL seem to be individuals who had textured, silicone implants; however, it is still possible that it could occur in a smaller percentage of patients with smooth, silicone implants or even saline breast implants.

As of July, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not recommended that all patients with textured, silicone breast implants have their implants removed as a preventative measure; however, some individuals are understandably concerned and would like to go ahead and have the implants removed. Whether or not you are considering breast implant removal, it is always vital to be sure that you obtain the recommended number of mammograms and check-ups, and to conduct routine self-examinations so that any swelling, lumps, pain, breast asymmetry, or other irregularities can be quickly examined and identified.

Please view this BIA-ALCL Frequently Asked Questions page for more information, and feel free to contact our practice with any additional questions you may have.

How Much Does Breast Implant Removal Cost? 

The cost of breast implant removal surgery often varies depending on the specific technique utilized, surgical facility and anesthesia fees, whether a breast lift or other treatment is being performed in tandem with the breast implant removal, the overall complexity of the procedure, and other factors. Rest assured that we will provide you with a cost estimate of your breast implant removal procedure that includes all associated expenses. Once the customized treatment plan is developed during your initial consultation with Dr. Bayati, a member of our team will present you with the price estimate and go over payment options. Our practice accepts many different methods of payment, and we work with plastic surgery financing companies such as CareCredit® and ALPHAEON™ Credit. These reputable agencies offer a comprehensive array of financing plans that can help qualified applicants conveniently work the price of treatment into their budget.

If you are considering breast implant removal, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Bayati today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

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