What is breast implant illness?

Breast implant illness is not a medically-recognised condition. [Photo: Getty]
Breast implant illness is not a medically-recognised condition. [Photo: Getty]

Fitness influencer Maria Kang recently hit headlines after sharing her decision to get her breast implants removed.

In a candid Facebook post, the mum of three admitted she had decided to undergo implant removal – known as a breast explant surgery – after experiencing physical symptoms such as chest pain and heart palpitations.

She opened up more about these symptoms in a later post, saying it made it “unbearable to function”.

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Kang is not the only high-profile person to experience an adverse reaction to breast implants. Crystal Hefner, the wife of latest Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner, has previously spoken of how she was left bedridden after reacting to her implants.

But what exactly is Breast Implant Illness, and what are the symptoms?

What is Breast Implant Illness?

According to the NHS, Breast Implant Illness is a condition that consists of a very broad range of nonspecific symptoms such as hair loss, brain fog, general fatigue and bowel problems.

Though not an official medical diagnosis BAAPS say that a number of women who have had breast implants believe certain symptoms they are experiencing can be attributed to the presence of their implants.

“Though Breast Implant Illness has been recognised as a condition that affects some patients with breast implants, there is currently a lack of good evidence that the breast implants are the cause,” says BAAPS.

“The variety of generalised symptoms reported have made it difficult to ascertain the true features of the illness and so an objective diagnosis can be difficult. It is believed in some patients, the cause may be psychological rather than physical. Explantation appears to work for only 50% of patients.”

BAAPS aren’t the only experts wanting the link between implants and BII to be further explored, earlier this year the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) indicated it is willing to re-examine the evidence.

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The move came following an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches who spoke to breast implant patients as well as a surgeon who has performed 3,000 operations to remove implants and said almost everyone felt better as a result.

A MHRA spokesperson told Guardian: “I think it’s entirely reasonable that book should be opened again now, and we and our advisory group are already looking at the evidence around this and we would be eager to learn more from patients, particularly about their experiences in this area.”

In the mean time what should women do if they feel they are suffering from BII?

BAAPS advises that anyone experiencing symptoms they feel might be related to their implants should see a doctor.

“It is important to bear in mind that your symptoms might not be related to the implants, and that other medical investigations should not be overlooked or ignored,” they add.