In September 1995, we were asked by Professor Carol Herbert of The Department of Family Practice, Faculty Of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Canada, to provide fact sheets related to illness resulting from silicone-gel and saline breast implants. The aim of the Implant Awareness Society is to provide women with accurate information on implants from doctors who study silicone-implant problems.
Our society has many members. Most have had implant surgery and almost all have similar symptoms. After we had personally met to discuss our illness, one lady brought several fact sheets from Dr. Robert Ira Lewy, M.D., FACP, Professor Of Medicine, University of Houston, Texas, who had listed the very same symptoms that we have experienced. Professor Carol Herbert did concur with the valuable findings of Dr. Lewy in 1994. The following symptoms are so general they are often overlooked and have not been associated with breast implants:
|cough||numbness in upper and lower limbs|
|rash||tingling in hands and feet|
|aching||cannot remember items read|
|dry eyes||say things not meant to say|
|fatigue||fevers or night sweats|
|diarrhea||tenderness of muscle or skin|
|getting lost||cannot read a word|
|stumbling||fingers/toes show discoloration|
|bladder burning||lymph node enlargement|
|joint pain||oral ulcers|
|skin nodule||weight change|
|chest pain||easy bruising|
When a woman experiences some of the above symptoms, immediate explantation is indicated so that she has a better chance of recovery. For example, when mammograms (not recommended) as well as ultrasound readings show the implants to be intact, but symptoms are still present, it is time for removal (many of us who had these symptoms, were told that all was well according to mammograms, etc., but explantation proved there were ruptures).
Both saline and silicone-gel breast implants are contained in an elastomer shell or envelope. This envelope is made from silicone and is highly toxic to the human body. Clinical tests, being carried out extensively in the U.S.A., proved that some women who had the saline implants for less than one year had all the related symptoms that the silicone-gel patients had.
According to the FDA’s Regulation of Silicone Breast Implants, a 52-page report by the Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations in the U.S.A., ruptured implants must be removed as soon as possible because there is no difference between a ruptured implant and a silicone injection, a procedure that was banned many years ago.
When a woman is explanted, it is extremely important that the implant, capsule surrounding the implant, scar tissue, and loose silicone found in the breast must be removed all in one surgical procedure. Some women may be very ill and find it impossible to summon the courage and strength to have a second surgery, if the capsule was not removed at the time of explantation. They are then out of the workforce for a very long time and may never be able to return.
Some of our members are bedridden, even though they have been explanted for several years. Besides their health, many lost jobs, homes, families, and self-respect. Many women have large tender livers, serious neurological damage, and severe pain years later.
Dr. Lewy provided the following list of illnesses associated with implants:
- Addison’s Disease – adrenocortical hormone deficiency causing abnormal levels of glucose and minerals and reduced tolerance to cold.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease – progressive muscle atrophy caused by degeneration of the central nervous system.
- Autoimmune Disease – abnormal function of the immune system causing antibodies against the body’s own tissues.
- Dermatomyositis – muscle inflammation accompanied by skin rashScleroderma.
- Grave’s Disease or Thyrotoxicosis – autoimmune disease causing an overactive thyroid that could result in goiter (usually caused by lack of iodine) or bulging eyes.
- Fibromyalgia – widespread joint and muscle fatigue and pain.
- Juvenile Diabetes – metabolic disorder due to partial or total lack of insulin secretion from the pancreas.
- Mixed Connective Tissue Disease – several autoimmune diseases that might include: systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, etc.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – autoimmune disease causing progressive destruction of the myelin sheath on nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord.
- Myasthenia Gravis – neuromuscular disease causing chronic fatigue and muscle weakness.
- Overlap Syndrome – autoimmune disease of connective tissue with symptoms of two or more diseases.
- Pernicious Anemia – severe autoimmune disorder related to vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Polymyositis – inflammation of many muscles.
- Raynaud’s Disease – abnormal constriction of the arteries in the extremities usually caused from exposure to cold.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – autoimmune disease causing chronic inflammation and joint destruction.
- Sjogren’s Syndrome – autoimmune disease causing a reduction in the secretion of saliva and tears.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – chronic autoimmune disease causing inflammation in any part of the body and tissue damage.
- Vitiligo – benign, irregular patches of unpigmented skin.
The elastomer shell that holds all breast implants is a man-made silicone rubber that was first made in 1950. Dow Chemical agreed to conduct annual chest x-rays of the workers exposed to the silica as they knew that, under certain conditions, exposure will cause significant change to the lungs. Fibrosis of the lungs is caused from silica.
Doctor Lewy obtained the above information from a supplement to the Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism: A Symposium on Silicone-Related Disorders, dated August 1994, and personally gave the Implant Awareness Society permission to write this report. The information is 60 pages and is found in all medical libraries. Dr. Lewy is now retired. A patient of his phoned Adella in 2010 after she read this article on the website.