Carolina Holistic Medicine | Functional & Alternative Medicine | Charleston, SC

Breast Implant Illness and Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)

So, there are a lot of women coming forward who have had breast augmentation (implants) and now suffer an assortment of unexplained illnesses.  It has been referred to in the lay population as Breast Implant Illness.

While many in the mainstream scientific community downplay the symptoms and believe it to either not exist at all or be just imaginary, it remains a very true and frustrating illness for many women.

Complaints are typically the following:

FATIGUE
BRAIN FOG, MEMORY LOSS
MUSCLE AND JOINT PAIN
HAIR LOSS, DRY SKIN AND HAIR
PREMATURE AGING
WEIGHT PROBLEMS
INFLAMMATION
POOR SLEEP AND INSOMNIA
DRY EYES, DECLINE IN VISION
HYPO/HYPER THYROID SYMPTOMS
HYPO/HYPER ADRENAL SYMPTOMS
PARATHYROID PROBLEMS
HORMONE IMBALANCE, DIMINISHING HORMONES, EARLY MENOPAUSE
HYSTERECTOMY
LOW LIBIDO
SLOW HEALING, EASY BRUISING
THROAT CLEARING, COUGH, DIFFICULTY SWALLOWING, CHOKING, REFLUX, METALLIC TASTES
VERTIGO
GASTROINTESTINAL ISSUES SUCH AS ACID REFLUX, GERD, GASTRITIS
LEAKY GUT, IBS AND SIBO
PANCREATITIS
FEVERS, NIGHT SWEATS, INTOLERANT TO HEAT/COLD
PERSISTENT BACTERIAL, VIRAL, FUNGAL INFECTIONS
YEAST INFECTIONS, CANDIDA, SINUS AND UTI INFECTIONS
SKIN RASHES
EAR RINGING
SUDDEN FOOD INTOLERANCE AND ALLERGIES
HEADACHES, MIGRAINES AND OCULAR MIGRAINES
SLOW MUSCLE RECOVERY AFTER ACTIVITY
HEART PALPITATIONS, CHANGES IN NORMAL HEART RATE OR HEART PAIN
SORE AND ACHING JOINTS OF SHOULDERS, HIPS, BACKBONE, HANDS AND FEET
SWOLLEN AND TENDER LYMPH NODES IN BREAST AREA, UNDERARM, THROAT, NECK, GROIN
DEHYDRATION FOR NO REASON
FREQUENT URINATION
NUMBNESS/TINGLING SENSATION IN UPPER AND LOWER LIMBS
COLD AND DISCOLORED LIMBS, HANDS AND FEET
GENERAL CHEST DISCOMFORT SHORTNESS OF BREATH
PAIN AND OR BURNING SENSATION AROUND IMPLANT AND OR UNDERARM
LIVER AND KIDNEY DYSFUNCTION
GALLBLADDER PROBLEMS
TOXIC SHOCK SYMPTOMS
ANXIETY, DEPRESSION AND PANIC ATTACKS
FEELING LIKE YOU ARE DYING
SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA
SYMPTOMS OF LYME DISEASE
SYMPTOMS OF EBV
SYMPTOMS OF AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASES SUCH AS; RAYNAUD’S SYNDROME, HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS, RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, SCLERODERMA, LUPUS, SJOGREN’S SYNDROME, NONSPECIFIC CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
SYMPTOMS OF BIA-ALCL LYMPHOMA
DIAGNOSIS OF CANCER

Of course, this covers a lot of medical real-estate.  From a physician standpoint, where do we start with a workup?  With so many overlapping complaints, symptoms, and signs, what are we to blame exactly?  The ‘’evidence-based community’’ is not too supportive of the BII diagnosis and it is true further research is warranted (Dush, 2001).

Published studies after 2011 are now supporting the notion of silicone implants connection to autoimmune disorders, while those prior to 2000 did not so much.  However, I personally believe that placing a foreign body (in this case silicone implants) is unnatural and intuitively harmful.  Our immune systems are there for a purpose.

When faced with a foreign body they will react to it.  When the body’s immune system is overwhelmed, physical and emotional symptoms can occur.

While I don’t claim to know all the answers, I cannot deny that many of my patients suffer the above symptoms and they cannot be explained away as being something else or all in their minds.  So further investigation is necessary, and recently I have been recommending explants as a way to give BII the benefit of the doubt and to better serve our patients.

If you take a position as in Pascal’s Wager and explant, you are probably on the winning side.  Afterall, taking something out that should not be there in the first place is always a good idea.  The advent of a rather rare type of cancer with breast implants referred to as Breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is of concern as more cases of this type of T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are popping up and being linked strongly with silicon implants.  Currently, the media and internet are abuzz with this topic, even though this problem has been known for some years.

The surgeons who just a few decades ago professed the safety of breast augmentation are seeing a few of their peers back-peddling on the issue and advocating the removal (explant) of breast implants.

I will predict that some patients with explants will see an amelioration of their symptoms, but I would say the vast majority of patients will see some of their symptoms continue.  Our complex body usually requires a multiprong approach to healing.  For a minority the procedure of explantation may solve most of their problems, but for the majority it will require more than just surgery for a cure (DeBoer, 2017).

I have seen this before with the removal of dental amalgams where patients have spent thousands of dollars to extract mercury laden fillings expecting a miraculous cure only to be disappointed that their symptoms never quite fully clear up.  Epigenetics and a host of other environmental factors are likely contributing.  Breast implants cannot explain all these symptoms as you have women who have never had implants that also complain of these constellations of symptoms.  Makes me wonder that this is not the end of the story.

In summary:  Do I think BII exists? Yes, I do.  Do I think there is more to this than just implants? Yes, I do. It must be multifactorial.  Are breast implants a natural thing to do to one’s body?  Well, obviously NO and it only makes sense to take out something that has no business in the body.  Will an explant be an instant cure for everyone?  No.  A few will loudly boast their cases on the Internet, but the vast majority will continue to suffer quietly until all aspects of the root causes are identified and addressed.

By JP Saleeby, MD

Ref:

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/breast-implant-illness-symptoms-treatments-one-womans-story One woman’s story

https://ard.bmj.com/content/60/7/653  most references are mid to late 1990s.  Downplays role of silicone implants with connective tissue disorders.

http://healingbreastimplantillness.com info on healing breast implant illness

https://www.facebook.com/groups/124246301454678/

https://www.oncnursingnews.com/web-exclusives/fda-demands-more-information-on-cancer-and-illnesses-caused-by-breast-implants

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1622027

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00006534-201711000-00061

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5406477/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28379860 Advocating explants for those with Rheumatological complaints.

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