SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Breast implant illness or BII is causing many women to remove implants or reconsider their desire for breast augmentation, even though BII is not an official medical diagnosis, according to medical researchers.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, BII refers to a wide range of symptoms that occur after breast implant surgery. Symptoms can begin immediately or years after the implants are placed.

Former NASCAR driver Danica Patrick uses Instagram to share her experience with BII.

But if researchers are learning about BII daily, how can a woman determine whether her breast implants make her sick or if there is some other cause?

Board-certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi explained some of the most common complaints for women who believe they are living with BII.

“So a lot of people commonly talk about fatigue, hair loss, brain fog, pain. It could be joint pain. It doesn’t just have to be in the breast,” Kelishadi said. “So commonly, it’s a vague group of symptoms where people just aren’t feeling like their normal selves.”

Kelishadi warns that while these symptoms should not be taken lightly, they should be evaluated with a person’s lifestyle and overall health in mind. He said that because BII’s symptoms are so vast, a woman should have blood work done to ensure breast implants are not being blamed for what could be hormonal or the development of an autoimmune disease such as Lupus.

“People usually go to their doctor, and I think you got to do your blood panels. You gotta check out your hormones, make sure you’re not going through menopause, or you don’t have like something else going on,” Kelishadi said. “And then what I would do is if they came to me, I look at all those things, and if there’s something missing, I try to fill in the gaps with more data. I would also make sure they’ve gotten their mammograms and other studies to make sure that their breast health is good.”

According to Kelishadi, only one of his patients has returned to have her implants removed in the last ten years.

“If I’ve got a patient who’s tried everything, they’ve changed their diet, they’ve gone to the doctor, they’ve tested, and they’re like, look, I’m just not happy, and I’ve tried everything. So then we take out their implants,” Kelishadi said. “We may remove their capsule depending on you know, what they believe and also what I think will be beneficial for them. And I think that’s worth doing right because we gotta give people a chance to live better.”

Kelishadi said he understands that sometimes peace of mind can aid in a patient’s healing. He also warns that they should continue to pay attention to those symptoms to ensure removal of the implant was the right course of treatment.

Symptoms of BII

While BII does not have an official diagnosis, the following symptoms are the most common of the 50 symptoms that researchers have found are associated with BII.

Musculoskeletal symptoms:

  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • muscle weakness (myopathy)

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • brain fog
  • fatigue
  • memory loss
  • trouble concentrating

Systemic symptoms

  • autoimmune condition symptoms or diagnosis
  • chronic pain
  • dry eyes or low vision
  • hair loss
  • skin problems such as rashes

“One thing that they have found is that the people who we can predict may get breast implant illness more commonly than others are people who have anxiety or depression going on. It’s their mental state before surgery.”

Kelishadi said there are alternatives for women who want to change their appearance without getting implants, but the key is to do the research necessary to select a surgeon who is board-certified and puts patient care above all else.

If you’re thinking about breast enhancement

  • be realistic with your goals and expectations
  • do it for yourself; that is the only right reason to undergo cosmetic surgery
  • make sure your lifestyle supports the downtime required for proper healing
  • know what you want, and don’t base your desires on other people’s outcomes
  • use a board-certified plastic surgeon; they are trained on best practices and techniques
  • a surgeon close to you is better for recovery than traveling for surgery
  • check the doctor’s website, look at before and after photos
  • choose a doctor that matches your personality, not just a good sales pitch
  • ask the staff if the surgeon hasn’t done procedures on them, don’t choose them
  • see if they are using an accredited surgery center

“You want someone who, like when you’re asleep, you feel like they would take care of you like their own family member, and they’re gonna make the right decision for you because – what if your heart stops, you know? You want to make sure that they’re gonna be ethical, safe, and take care of you, Kelishadi said. “Check the reviews. See if they used board-certified anesthesiologists or registered nurses to give anesthesia.”

Breast implants have also been associated with certain types of cancer. Generally, women have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer whether or not they have implants, according to Kelishadi. Breast implants do not increase that risk. However, the type of breast implant used in the procedure and technique can play a part.

Textured breast implants were identified as increasing the risk of breast cancer because they could develop malignant fluids in the breast capsule. Kelishadi said swapping the textured implant out for a smooth one can significantly reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women who have had breast augmentation.

Kelishadi said that the global community of plastic surgeons had discontinued using textured breast implants.