SAN DIEGO — Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October is well known, but March is the beginning of a relatively new women’s health campaign: National Breast Implant Awareness Month.
And it’s getting a lot more attention these days, because more and more women are getting their breast implants removed.
Launched in 2018, National Breast Implant Awareness Month is not well known, much like the potential health risks of breast implants for many women, something it aims to change.
“Back when I got my breast implants, there wasn’t a lot of information out there,” said Courtney Sladky, an explant surgery patient.
Sladky is part of a growing number of women who’ve opted to have their breast implants permanently removed. A trend seen from the racetrack to the red carpet. Celebrities like Jane Fonda, Pamela Anderson, model Chrissy Teigan and racecar driver Danica Patrick have all openly talked about their decision to go natural.
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Chaffoo of La Jolla confirmed explant surgery is on the rise, performing one right before an interview with FOX 5.
His patient’s explant surgery was for the most common reason: one of the implant’s hardened. But women are having them removed for a host of reasons from cosmetic to unexplained health problems like Sladky experienced.
“I had chronic pain, I would see the chiropractor once a week for the last six years. I had weight gain I could not get rid of no matter what, my body was always swollen,” Sladky said.
Dr. Chafoo has seen patients with similar complaints.
“Patients might have joint pain, joint stiffness, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, depression, sometimes rashes,” Dr. Chafoo said.
Breast implant illness or BII as its called is a gray area for many plastic surgeons. The main problem is there’s no diagnostic test for it, but a new study did find that 94% of women who had their implants removed did feel better. Sladky says she did immediately.
“I didn’t realize how sick I was until I got them out,” she said.
Both Sladky and Dr. Chafoo agree there’s not enough data about BII and there’s definitely not a consensus among the medical community.
“They can’t put a solid diagnosis on it because it disguises itself as many things, it’s very misunderstood,” Sladky said.
While the science remains unclear, the definition of beauty is also changing, and the trend could also be a cultural shift.
“I also see the younger generation choosing not to get breast implants, there’s a lot of younger woman I’ve seen, even celebrities, that do not have breast implants. Like I said, I think that’s fantastic to have us in our natural bodies and to be okay with that,” Sladky said.
Dr. Chaffoo advises to make sure your implants are made in the U.S and see a real plastic surgeon.
He adds that breast implant surgery still far outpaces breast explant surgery.