The Rise Of Breast Implant Illness And Holistic Beauty Trends Are Changing The Conversation Around Plastic Surgery

In recent months, breast implants have made headline news all over the world, with record numbers of celebrities and social media influencers speaking out about having their implants removed.

By Robyn Towt & Amanda Porta3 min read
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Many celebrities and social media influencers are sharing the health complications that have been caused by their breast implants and other plastic surgery procedures. If you or someone in your life is considering going under the knife in pursuit of a cosmetic "upgrade", it is essential to understand the risks in order to make an informed decision.  

Research the Risks So You Can Give Informed Consent

Robyn Towt is a patient advocate who has spent the past five years researching the breast implant industry. Historically, plastic surgeons have not given proper informed consent to patients during breast implant consultation. In a Global Patient Advocacy Coalition survey of over 5,000 patients, 84% of patients did not receive patient information from the manufacturer, 96% said they do not feel that they fully understood the risks and maintenance of having breast implants, and 84% feel they were not given enough time and information to make an informed decision.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) worked with Towt and other patient advocates to develop a patient decision checklist to provide patients with important information about having breast implant surgery. The ASPS Example Checklist outlines the risks, including those known or reported to be associated with the use of the device based on information from clinical trials, scientific literature, and reports from patients who have undergone device placement.

What You Should Know About Breast Implants

  • Breast implants are not lifetime devices. The longer people have them, the greater the chance of having complications.

  • All breast implants now carry an FDA Black Box Warning label, the strictest labeling for the most dangerous and deadly devices.

  • Breast implants are associated with several different types of cancer.

  • Breast implants are associated with autoimmune diseases and systemic symptoms. 

  • FDA reports of common symptoms are fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, anxiety, insomnia, hair loss, rashes, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, heart palpitations, headaches/migraines, chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, chronic infections, and depression.

In 2019, there was a worldwide recall of Allergan textured Biocell breast implants and breast tissue expanders. The recall was prompted by the high number of cancer cases associated with the Biocell textured implants compared to other brands. Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a lymphoma that is most commonly associated with textured breast implants. 

Additionally, the FDA recently announced a new Breast Implant Safety Alert that warns about other forms of cancer that are caused by breast implants of all types. These cancers are concerning, and they are being detected years after a patient has had breast implant surgery. Unfortunately, because breast implant patients have been so poorly studied and monitored, breast implant patients are not being informed about the cancers and how to detect them. Most medical practitioners are not aware of breast implant related cancers, therefore patient advocacy groups have asked the FDA to issue a Healthcare Provider Letter to all physicians of every specialty in an effort to diagnose and treat patients at an early stage. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is highly aggressive and does not respond to chemotherapy or radiation. SCC is as deadly as pancreatic cancer; 50% of patients die within six months of a diagnosis. Patients can learn more by viewing the ASPS overview and recommendations on how to test, diagnose, and treat breast implant related cancers.

Types of Breast Implant Related Cancers

  • BIA-ALCL – Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (associated with textured implants)

  • BIA-SCC – Breast Implant Associated Squamous Cell Carcinoma (associated with all types of implants)

  • T-cell Lymphomas

  • B-cell Lymphomas

  • Melanoma

An Implant Experience Gone Wrong

In 2023, we are seeing beauty trends shift. People now want a healthy and natural look that highlights their individual and unique features. 

Amanda Porta is known as The Holistic Beauty Coach on Instagram. She has worked in the beauty industry for over 20 years and has seen the trends come and go. Celebrities and influencers are now reversing their plastic surgery as they have come to the realization that the procedures seem to accelerate the aging process, rather than make them look younger, and they are now speaking out to warn others of the dangers. 

Amanda’s experience with breast implants was a wakeup call that inspired her to change her beauty routine and her entire lifestyle to a more holistic and natural approach. Her job title shifted from patient care coordinator to patient advocate as she helps patients who may have experienced medical gaslighting as she did when she was chronically ill. 

Amanda states, “I never had health issues before getting breast implants, so I never had a reason to go to the doctor. Once I began to piece it together and consider my breast implants, I explanted and had a full recovery and felt called to help and protect others.” 

Explant is the fountain of youth.

She is now a patient advocate working for Dr. Kevin Brenner, a board certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. She notes that she feels and looks so much better now that she has been all natural for the past four years compared to when she had breast implants and Botox. One of Amanda’s former employers, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, doesn’t believe in breast implant illness, but upon seeing her six months after explant surgery, he told her she looked 10 years younger. Medical publications show that patients' health improves after breast implant removal. In the BII community, it is often said that “explant is the fountain of youth.”

Amanda has also noticed a difference in all of the patients she sees who are taking a more natural approach to beauty. “What I have observed from explant patients is that they are choosing a more holistic lifestyle which includes altering their choices in everything from food, water, and beauty regimen. We need to start talking about holistic beauty in Beverly Hills, the beauty capital of the world. Women are now healing and embracing their natural beauty,” she says.

As her Instagram following grows, The Holistic Beauty Coach shares tips about gua sha and buccal facials, a healthy alternative to Botox and fillers which cause inflammation and swelling. She also stresses the importance of healthy lymph and lymphatic massage. “Stagnant lymph expedites the aging process, we need a healthy lymphatic flow,” she says.

As new beauty trends shift to holistic and natural, here are some tips to take action and love the more natural you:

  • Embrace and flaunt your inner and outer natural beauty.

  • Pay attention to changes in your health or any new symptoms you experience.

  • Trust your gut instinct if something doesn’t feel right.

  • Share breast implant and other plastic surgery information with your doctors and friends.

  • Be aware of what ingredients are in your beauty products.

  • Fuel your body with foods and ingredients that nourish.

  • See your doctor with any concerns related to cosmetic surgery.

  • Document problems in patient medical records.

  • Report all adverse events to the FDA.

  • Report breast implant cancers to the PROFILE registry.

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