Toxic Boobs – Are Silicone Breast Implants to Blame?
Which is better: saline or silicone breast implants? It’s the historic ‘big question’ for would-be breast augmentation patients. Women worldwide have asked it millions of times throughout the years, ever since ‘boob jobs’ became mainstream. Now that breast implant illness is affecting so many women who have breast implants, we now have a new list of questions.
Are silicone breast implants better than saline? Do both pose health risks? Is there decisive evidence to select one over the other – or is it better to avoid them altogether? Let’s delve into the epidemic of toxic boobs. According to the FDA, women should be given a heads-up regarding the symptoms they may develop due to augmentation. Notably, that’s regardless of whether the implant is silicone or saline.
Read onward as we examine the popularity and properties of silicone and saline implants. We’ll even share some information about ‘gummy bear implants.’
What is silicone?
It’s manmade. You won’t find silicone mountains or silicone valleys (that’s silicon, not silicone), and though it’s considered to be a stable element, the human body is not born with an innate supply. Every silicone breast implant begins its life in a lab, and its makeup includes (but is not limited to): silicon (which is an element found in nature), oxygen, carbon and hydrogen.
Why is it harmful?
According to the FDA, it’s not – unless it moves throughout the body. Silicone breast implants are supposed to suspend the silicone by encasing it inside a protective shell. What happens when the shell leaks is shocking: a substance that the FDA purports should never be injected into the body is released.
It’s important to note that not everyone agrees with the FDA that even unruptured silicone breast implants are safe. According to this Healthline article, some experts are concerned about the mere insertion of silicone devices into the body. They say that more studies need to be done before safety can be assured.
Ask women who suffer from BII whose silicone implants have not ruptured, and they’ll tell you unequivocally what they believe to be true: that the mere existence of silicone in the human body is not advantageous.
What led to silicone being inserted into breast implants in the first place?
Breast implant illness can occur regardless of whether implants are filled with saline or silicone. However, silicone poses a unique threat to the human body. The toxicity of silicone needs to be recognized and accepted by the medical community before a full understanding of breast implant illness can occur. It’s imperative to address the toxicity of silicone chemicals and their role in health.
Many implants achieve their shape thanks to liquid silicone. Since research on toxicity is not extensive, some experts do purport to be concerned about placing silicone in any form inside the body. Cue breast implant concern – including an alarming warning about endocrine system disruption.
What’s the deal with endocrine disruption?
Endocrine glands control the health processes in our bodies. You can read all about this in a book about the Dow trial on breast implants entitled Breast Implants and the Dirt Committee by Gail Hamilton. This same information was also documented by Rachael Carson, whose work brought to light the damage these same chemicals do to wildlife in her well-known book Silent Spring. The Power of One Voice: a 50-Year Documentary on the Life of Rachel Carson is streaming currently on Netflix.
But what’s the problem? I thought silicone was made with mostly natural elements?
Silicone breast implants are also made with toxic chemicals and heavy metals that do not belong in a living body. Look up each of the chemicals used to make silicone, and you will read that they include endocrine disrupters, carcinogens, cytotoxins and inflammatory elements. It’s no wonder silicone is being blamed for so many health problems!
Silicone gel bleed is well documented in silicone implants, including cohesive gel implants. This has occurred merely a few years after placement in some cases. Leaks, ruptures and shell failures are well documented prior to ten years after implant, regularly occurring 6-8 years after placement but occasionally occurring much earlier.
These silicone chemicals are poisoning women. They are a large part of the problem and why women with implants are experiencing endocrine problems, immune problems (thymus), gut health problems and cancers, as well as autoimmune challenges and various infections.
Is there a particular type of silicone breast implant that is more harmful than others?
When an implant has close ties to a rare cancer, the FDA acts. The FDA has recalled the Allergan BIOCELL textured implant and related expanders. Those with these implants, which were chosen in the past due to their ability to adhere in the body and seem ‘natural,’ turned out to slowly poison some women who received them. These women developed anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), and it’s simple to make the correlation: as soon as the implants are removed, healing is reported.
FDA information about BIA-ALCL can be found here.
What is a gummy bear implant, anyway?
Long embraced by fitness competitors, the gummy bear implant is much more than just a cute name. The FDA recommends that women who opt for these implants actually undergo regular MRIs to detect any rupture. That’s because even when they are pierced, these implants often retain their shape. Silicone could slowly be leaking through a woman’s body – and she wouldn’t even know it.
Call to action: A true examination of risk
Chemical toxicity research needs to be part of breast implant illness research. Every single chemical and heavy metal used in silicone and in a silicone breast implant should be listed for a woman to review and acknowledge.
The risks are just too high not to go into a breast augmentation operation without all the information currently available.
So you’re saying I should choose saline?
Not necessarily. Once an implant is inserted into the chest cavity, a capsule forms. If the implant ruptures and deflates, bacteria can result in a toxic situation inside the body. Sure, saline is more natural than silicone. But that doesn’t mean women with saline implants do not experience symptoms of breast implant illness (BII). That’s why the FDA recommendation does not stop at silicone. It addressed implants as a categorical whole.
But saline doesn’t have silicone in it, right?
This is a common misconception. According to the Mayo Clinic, both types of implants feature a silicone shell. One is filled with silicone; one with saline. But that silicone? It’s still there, either way.
Look at the issue in this manner: Silicone-filled or saline, if a foreign invader made its way into the body, the body would try to fight it. The immune response would heighten. A capsule, the body’s way of protecting itself, would form. To willingly place these implants is to ignore that truism. It’s the body’s job to take care of itself. For many women who have breast implants, that means symptoms of breast implant illness occur as an inflammatory response.
Aside from toxicity, there’s the question about breastfeeding.
It’s well-documented that ‘breast is best’ for babies; the FDA reports so here. Scientists have yet to be able to isolate all the compounds in breast milk that deem it ‘liquid gold’ in terms of its health benefits. Silicone or saline, those who have implants after reconstructive surgery may not be able to nurse their children due to a loss of tissue and milk-producing glands.
Imagine for a moment that a woman with implants is able to breastfeed, but then realizes after weaning her child that her implant has ruptured. Does silicone pass through to the milk supply? We do not know.
What happens if a saline implant ruptures? The solution is sterile, so it’s safe, right?
Not necessarily. If that saline implant ruptures, the encasement for the implant still exists. It will have to be removed. Also, any sort of faulty valve or rupture can mean the introduction of bacteria. No one wants to imagine moldy breast implants, but that’s exactly what can occur.
Let’s use the metaphor of the body as a home. When mold spreads throughout the home, it can cause disastrous medical outcomes. When mold is present in your actual body, the results can be devastating. In this case, it’s not a question of whether saline is harmful. It’s whether a ruptured implant, left untended, can harbor the type of bacteria that can lead to adverse health outcomes.
Will taking the implant out fix all my problems?
For the best chance at a clean bill of health, consider having the capsule removed as well during explant. If you’ve opted for silicone implants, silicone may have leaked, and therefore the removal of the implant will not completely eradicate the presence of the toxic substance. Additionally, mammograms can be difficult to read when the capsule is left intact.
Capsular contracture, as the hardening is called, is actually so common that there is a scale to determine how severe it is. At its worst, the breast can be made hard and deformed. Though some people are able to avoid surgery and their capsules can be ‘relaxed,’ that does not change the fact that every day, these women carry these scar tissue reminders of their body’s fight toward normalcy.
The question is no longer silicone or saline for many women. It’s How do I explant? and Can removing my implants and the surrounding capsules make me feel better? Find answers to these questions and join a community that aims to globally educate about BII here.