If you are considering getting breast implants, you know the risks

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When I was 35 years old, I chose breast implants after discovering that I had breast cancer. Breast implants are a popular mastectomy reconstruction option. I felt too young not to have breasts so I made my decision quickly. I’ve been so focused on removing every cancer cell from my body that I’ve done little research on breast implants.

Three years later my breast implants were removed. The constant pain in the shoulders and ribs and the twenty-nine symptoms of breast implant disease convinced me that fake breasts weren’t worth being sick and tormenting yourself every day. It wasn’t until I got sick, with no answers from doctors and lab tests, that I realized what the cause was. Since my implant removal, most of my symptoms have disappeared. By now you may be thinking that I am only one person and you have heard in the media that breast implants are safe for most women. Before getting breast implants, please do your research.

To help you, I spoke to Dr. Manish Shah, a certified plastic surgeon in Denver, Colorado, spoke to learn the details about breast implants.

I started by asking him who shouldn’t have breast implants under any circumstances? He announced that there were patients who were not “ideal candidates” for implants. If you smoke there is a risk of “healing problems” and “complications during anesthesia”. There are also patients with “unrealistic size goals”, patients with “uncontrolled diabetes” and patients with “significant autoimmune disease or immunosuppression” who have additional risks. Dr. Shah says he will turn away anyone who, in his opinion, is not a healthy candidate.

Even if you are not a high-risk patient, you need to know that breast implants come with many risks. Dr. Shah says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has an extensive list to help ensure patients get their informed consent. However, he has an “open discussion” with his patients about the risks. He states that the risks include: “Bleeding, infection, scarring, wound healing disorders, numbness, changes in the sensation or function of the areola complex, difficulties in breastfeeding, difficulties with mammography, need for an MRI, need for future surgery, dissatisfaction with the cosmetic Result, need for revision surgery, implant complications (wave formation, infection, capsule contracture, malalignment, extrusion, implant loss, reactions to medication or anesthesia, heart / lung / brain complications and / or death. ”Add to his list that breast implants can burst with silicone implants the silicone can then leak into the body.

Are you already turning your head? Well there is more.

The Tribeca Film Festival recently screened a documentary entitled “Explant” in which Michelle Visage, who you may know from Rupaul’s Drag Race, tells of her journey to remove her implants to restore her health. In the documentary, Michelle speaks to a group of women who share that they have breast implant disease. However, when they spoke to their doctors, they were told that they were “crazy”.

I have Dr. Shah asked if a woman has implants and she thinks she has a BII – which is a constellation of symptoms associated with breast implants – what should she do? Dr. Shah says the patient should document their symptoms and seek treatment from their GP and seek laboratory work, including “markers of inflammation, complete blood count, allergy markers, connective tissue disease markers,” and more. If she thinks her breast implants are making her sick, she can contact a plastic surgeon to discuss the removal.

However, I have learned that BII is not an official medical diagnosis, making this journey difficult for both doctor and patient. A doctor cannot diagnose a patient that officially does not exist. But despite the lack of a diagnostic code for BII, Dr. Shah: “I think BII is a real phenomenon.” He adds, “Breast implants are foreign objects. As such, the body will have some sort of response to it. ”He said that the“ vast majority ”of his patients have no problems – but that does not mean that“ some patients do not suffer from their implants and just do better to remove them “. At the patient’s request, he is ready to remove implants.

What I learned from reading the stories of thousands of women is that they were told by their surgeons that breast implants are “completely safe” and they trusted their doctors to tell them the truth. However, when they try to have their implants removed, their surgeons claim that the patients must be suffering from something else, that it cannot possibly be the implants.

Before you even think about seeing a plastic surgeon for breast implants, you need to ask yourself some important questions that Dr. Shah has asked. We have to question our current autoimmune or risk status. Breast implants are not permanent devices – they will have to be removed or replaced at some point – so are you okay with future breast surgeries? Mammograms can be difficult to perform and interpret if the patient has implants – are you okay with this risk? Additionally, you may need to pay out of pocket for MRIs (that’s thousands of dollars per scan).

You may lose or excessively feel the nipples when you have implants; Dr. Shah suggests that you carefully consider whether you are okay with the changes in sexual pleasure after the implantation. If you currently have neck or shoulder pain, it may increase due to the extra weight after the implants are placed. Surgery and subsequent recovery require time off from work, which can sometimes be longer depending on the job. You really can’t cheat, otherwise the implants can be moved or you risk an infection. For anyone who lifts weights, either for leisure or for their job, you need to consider how implants affect it.

You see, getting breast implants isn’t as easy as you might think. While I certainly understand any person who would like their breasts to have a certain look, as I did when I learned I had cancer, I found that the risks of implantation in my own body came to fruition. The shoulder and rib pain persisted the entire time I had implants with no relief from physiotherapy and chiropractic care. The BII symptoms lasted eleven (very long) months until the implants were removed from me.

I wish I were alone with my ailments, but the reality is thousands of women perform explants every year. Almost 29,000 women were explanted in 2018. They deserve to be heard and understood.