This week, Dr. Richard M. Kline of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your question.
QUESTION: I had a bilateral mastectomy back in 2000 because of numerous precancerous lumps in my breasts. I had Stage 3 melanoma 8 years prior, and they operated numerous times on me. I decided to have latissimus reconstruction surgery, and since then have had numerous problems. I’m allergic to latex, numerous adhesives, sulfa, and penicillin. I’ve been suffering from fibromyalgia, severe edema throughout my body, and itchiness within the area of my chest wall and breasts. After getting this issue checked out, I was told this was not an implant problem and was sent home. Are there any tests that can check to see if the problems relate to my implants? I had a CT scan done at Mayo Clinic, and they said I had an allergic reaction to what they thought was an antibiotic. Have you seen this before in your patients? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
ANSWER: I’m not aware of a test to see if your implants are causing any problems. To my knowledge, there has been no firm connection established between implants and symptoms such as yours, but you should check with your rheumatologist to be sure.
Having said that, we do see many patients who have implant reconstructions along with various complaints such as discomfort, tightness, pain, etc. Although it is obviously difficult to objectively quantify, many of them seem to get significant relief from their symptoms if their implants are removed, and their breasts reconstructed with their own tissue. In all fairness, most of these patients have what would be considered unacceptable reconstructions anyway (hardness and asymmetry being common issues), so it is usually pretty easy for them to decide to have their implants removed and replaced with natural tissue. If your reconstruction is presently aesthetically acceptable to you (other symptoms notwithstanding), then the issue of what to do is significantly less clear-cut.
Best of luck, and let me know if we can be of any further assistance.
Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr.
Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction
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