Removal of Breast Implants and Capsules
Breast implants are relevant and appropriate for many breast cancer patients who require mastectomies. They are also widely used by women purely for cosmetic reasons.
Occasionally, some patients encounter negative side effects from having breast implants. These include:
Capsular contracture: the body naturally forms a layer of scar tissue around the implant. This scar tissue is called a capsule. Capsular contracture occurs if/when the capsule starts to contract around the implant. This may cause discomfort and reduce arm mobility. Surgically removing the implant, along with the capsule will resolve capsular contracture.
Implant rupture: as much as implants today are made with more reliable material than in the past, sometimes the implants rupture. Both saline and silicone are not toxic to the body, but ruptured implants do need to be surgically removed. An ultrasound or MRI of the breast will determine if the implant has indeed ruptured.
Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL): certain textured breast implants (which have since been recalled) were found to lead to an increased risk of developing BIA-ALCL (1 in 4,000 women). When detected early, surgical intervention is usually sufficient to treat BIA-ALCL. The Therapeutic Goods Administration advises that unless there are symptoms (pain, swelling, or a lump around the breast or armpit), removing the implants is not recommended. If symptoms exist, medical advice should be sought.
Breast Implant Illness (BII): BII is the term used to describe a wide group of unexplained persisting symptoms that some women with breast implants experience. These symptoms may include aches and pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog, rashes, hair loss, and gastrointestinal discomfort. Studies are still being conducted to understand the link between implants and these symptoms. Some women report that symptoms progressively resolve after their implants are removed.
Removing breast implants, along with the capsules, are at times medically indicated. Women with implants are recommended to speak with a surgeon to determine if implant removal is appropriate for them.