Breast Implants: Recovery & Discovery
This is an excerpt from an excellent and revealing article that was posted February 13, 2006 on MyDna.com.
We applaud them for the courage to publish this viewpoint.
... One out of every 10 women in the U.S. has joint aches, muscle pains, memory issues and chronic fatigue syndrome associated with receiving breast implants, according to Ed Melmed, M.D., a specialist plastic surgeon from the Medical City Hospital in Dallas, Tex.
"There is no difference - racial or ethnic - among women between 20 and 75 years of age," he said. And while things might seem fine initially, nearly half of all implants will go bust in 10 year's time - resulting in the creation of surrounding scar tissue. "It's like a fly trapped into a spider's web," Melmed said.
Melmed is worried that "while the manufacturers say their devices are 100-percent safe, women come up with this 'missing-something-in-life' syndrome." This leads many, like Winters, to pursue explant surgeries. Afterward, 70 percent of individuals report a disappearance of symptoms.
A new report by the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Center for Women and Families says that breast reconstruction patients experience two to three times as many complications and additional surgeries as augmentation patients.
The most frequent problems are capsular contracture (a hardening of scar tissue surrounding the implant), which causes the breast to feel hard, and later the rupture of the implant, which can lead to infections, bruising and blood collection at the wound site.
The author of the report, Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., said that "women are very sensitive to silicone implants." "In our experience, it seems that saline implants - given the chemical components in their shells - can set off a reaction even more quickly than silicone gel breast implants," she said.
Common reactions, she said, included rashes and hair loss. Joint pain, chronic fatigue and memory problems are also issues. "Women in their 20s should not be experiencing those symptoms," she added.
Zuckerman also chided the makers of breast implants, including Inamed and Mentor, in the report: "After selling silicone breast implants to tens of thousands of mastectomy patients in the last five years, under the conditions that they participate in clinical trials, implant manufacturer Inamed included only 80 such patients in their longitudinal safety study submitted to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), and Mentor Corporation has not come up with any useful information about rupture or silicone leakage for reconstruction patients who have had their implants for more than two years."
"There was a significant increase in autoimmune reactions when researchers compared women before getting implants to the same women two years after getting implants. It was shocking that the changes were statistically significant after such a short time," she added.
Ilena Rosenthal, director of the San Diego-based Humantics Foundation for Women, the largest breast implant support group in the world, agreed.
"The so-called 'studies' that the silicone manufacturers and plastic surgeons rely on are too small, too short and include eliminating the data from the women who removed their implants for any reason. This is madness, such as removing anyone from a lung cancer study who coughed or showed any other symptoms," she said.
The findings of the NRC research come on the heels of another report, in January, when the 13-member Expert Advisory Panel on Breast Implants recommended to the Canadian government agency, Health Canada, that "a comprehensive breast implant registry would enhance our understanding of the safety and efficacy of these devices, improve our understanding of experiences with these devices, increase our ability for conducting research on a large representative sample of women and increase our knowledge of the health care utilization implications."
The panel recommended that implant manufacturers demonstrate that leaked silicone provided an acceptable risk of hypersensitivity and autoimmunity. At the same time, they also said "there is no current scientific evidence to reliably support repeated - every one to two years - breast MRIs for patients with breast implants."
The assessment of silicone-filled breast implants, the panel said, "should be at the discretion of the plastic surgeon, in consultation with the patient, and preferably be based on new breast symptoms or signs."
"MRIs are not always accurate, but their accuracy is higher if the proper breast coil MRI equipment is used and the person reading the MRI is experienced in what to look for," Zuckerman said.
Melmed advises getting an MRI once every seven to 10 years to check for implant ruptures.
When it comes to prevention of problems, the report suggested that patients who suffer from depression or eating disorders be fully treated prior to surgery.
"It is obvious that women who seek any kind of plastic surgery should be screened to make sure that their real problem isn't depression or low self-esteem. Plastic surgeons say that they do this, but in fact, they are not trained to screen for depression or mental problems, don't know how to screen for mental problems, don't really want to spend the time doing it, and there is not much incentive. After all, they want these customers," Zuckerman said.
Rosenthal agreed. "This is a multi-billion dollar industry. Plastic surgeons can make millions annually by performing only a handful of breast augmentations a week. Removal is even more expensive and profitable for them. The 'guarantees' by the manufacturers cover replacement only - and not removal - and disinformation abounds because the manufacturers have pooled their public relations dollars with those of the oil, food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries to turn 'science' upside down," she said.
"I remind women that there was no shortage of 'turn-on' of men for women prior to breast implants! That healthy is 'sexy' ... energetic is 'sexy' ... intelligence is 'sexy.' I tell them to fill their hearts with love and appreciation of their health instead of a foreign object which too frequently will cause them needless pain, expense and loss of the breast tissue they have naturally," Rosenthal added.
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