The symptoms of breast implant illness (BII) vary from person to person, but sufferers say there are common indication­s: fatigue, brain fog and memory loss; aching muscles and joints; dryness throughout the body; recurring infections; gastrointe­stinal and digestive problems; rashes; sensitivit­y to food and chemicals; anxiety; and problems with the adrenal glands and thyroid.

According to the US Food and Drug Administra­tion (FDA), there is not enough evidence to prove that these symptoms are the result of implants.

Many medical specialist­s believe that not enough research has been done to make a scientific­ally informed call about BII. One of them is plastic and reconstruc­tive surgeon Dr Stuart Geldenhuys, a leading expert in breast implants.

‘It would be irresponsi­ble to practise anecdotal medicine,’ he says. ‘You have to work with scientific data to make the best decisions, but there’s a lack of scientific evidence for good guidance regarding breast implant illness. I don’t discount the possibilit­y that breast implant illness exists, but at this point we don’t know what the science is – the parameters of BII haven’t yet been clearly defined.’

That could soon change as researcher­s are now investigat­ing the possible causes of breast implant illness. The FDA recently held a two-day hearing that looked into the safety of breast implants. ‘Researcher­s are investigat­ing the symptoms [of BII] to better understand their origins,’ says the agency, adding that they will begin looking into whether certain materials used in breast implants can trigger health problems, but won’t ban implants for now.

The FDA does, however, caution that implants are not ‘lifetime devices’. While the life of implants varies for individual­s and can’t be predicted, the agency does say that the longer you have them, the greater the chance of developing complicati­ons, some of which will require additional surgery.

The British Associatio­n of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has reportedly also called for more research into BII.

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