Early this year Lucy B, an NWHN supporter, wrote us:
I am in constant pain under my rib cage after having breast implant surgery almost two years ago. Any pressure from a bra causes more pain, and my joint/muscle pain is worse than it’s ever been. I have been to my cosmetic surgeon twice and he just shrugs me off. I have decided to have the implants removed because I can’t live with the pain anymore. What advice can you give me on next steps and recourse?
First and foremost, we want to make it clear – if you or someone you know is suffering from similar pain after breast implant surgery or the minimization of your concerns by a medical professional, your experience is valid. Unfortunately, the medical community has a long history of ignoring or minimizing breast implant complications, (sometimes called Breast Implant Illness), as exposed in several recent studies. The good news is, because thousands of women share these experiences, knowledge about Breast Implant Illness has gained a lot of traction recently, and self-advocacy is on the rise.
When the Comms team received Lucy’s email, we immediately huddled with Lacey Alexander (PhD, RN, GERO-BC), a dedicated NWHN board member and a clinical assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin. Here are a few reputable groups she recommends checking out ASAP if you or someone you know is suffering from Breast Implant Illness:
- The Healing Breast Implant Society of North America
The Healing Breast Implant Illness Society of North America is a nonprofit dedicated to globally educating women about the adverse health effects of saline and silicone breast implants. They do this by elevating high-quality medical articles, case reports, and personal stories. Their online support group made up of 156K members may be of particular interest to people navigating breast implant complications.
- The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
One thing that jumped out to us as totally unacceptable in Lucy’s email was the callous disregard of her current plastic surgeon for her pain. Bottom line, when your doctor treats you like this, it’s time to seek out a second opinion. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is a great place to search for a highly trained, board-certified plastic surgeon who will take your concerns seriously. The link above leads right to their search function and an issue briefing on breast implant removal. Here, too, is a link on the same site to some useful questions to ask a new plastic surgeon during a consultation about breast implant removal.
- The Alliance for Breast Implant Education (ABIE)
The Alliance for Breast Implant Education is a California-based nonprofit that does some great education and mitigation work around Breast Implant Illness. ABIE can help connect people who want their breast implants removed with personal mentors to help navigate the explant process. They also host community forums and keep tabs on the most up-to-date research on this issue.
- The National Breast Implant Registry
Finally, Lucy asked about recourse – and she’s not alone in wanting some. The National Breast Implant Registry is a quality improvement initiative and safety surveillance registry that collects clinical, procedural, and outcome data from US patients who have received breast implants. Founded in cooperation with the Plastic Surgery Foundation and the FDA, their goal is to make breast implants safer and hold plastic surgeons accountable to the latest, best safety data. We highly encourage people who have experienced breast implant complications to share their story with this registry, as every data point helps others avoid similar complications.