Women having breast implants should be made aware about the potential risk of a condition known as Breast Implant Illness (BII), the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has suggested.
Though there is little scientific evidence about the existence of the condition, which is said to cause fatigue and chronic pain, anecdotal evidence from women who say they have returned to full health after having their implants removed suggests otherwise.
A number of women told the ‘Victoria Derbyshire programme’ they experienced complications associated with their breast implants, which they had not been warned about.
And according to BAAPS one Facebook group alone has more than 50,000 members who report symptoms of BII.
Further figures reveal that between 2014 and May 2019 the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) received 1,586 Adverse Incident Reports for breast implants between 2014 and May 2019.
Now experts, including surgeons from BAAPS, are calling for more research into the condition.
Consultant plastic surgeon of BAAPS, Nora Nugent, told BBC: "Surgeons should be warning patients about breast implant illness.
“Patients need the most up-to-date information possible, with the caveat that breast implant illness is poorly understood. So it's going to be difficult to give absolute information."
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.
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.