The first localized symptom I had when my silicone breast implants had unknowingly ruptured was a lump in my left axilla. A doctor dismissed it, saying it was unrelated to my implants without checking for rupture.
The second localized symptom I had was a mass / thickening in my right axilla. Again it was dismissed without checking for rupture.
Sometime later I noticed what felt like a displaced rib immediately below my left breast. I could move it. When I presented to my doctor I was told it was probably scar tissue that had detached. It wasn’t investigated. On explant it was discovered that it was a large open-ended granuloma where silicone had passed from within the scar capsule surrounding my ruptured implant into my chest wall.
The first non-localized symptoms I had when my left silicone breast implant had unknowingly ruptured were neurological and presented unilaterally, on the same side as rupture. Doctors neither connected the dots, nor checked for rupture. Over years I developed many more symptoms – eventually I was virtually bedridden. Still doctors dismissed any connection to my breast implants and didn’t explore their integrity.
Meanwhile, as I was told the symptoms I was presenting with were unrelated to my silicone breast implants THIS was happening …
Eventually the localized lumps, lymph nodes and masses were investigated but, it was a case of ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’. It was inadequate to explore the nature of these issues to the exclusion of my breast implants. It would have been prudent to order an ultrasound or MRI to determine if there was rupture.
One might (rightfully) have expectation that doctors would have at least some comprehension of the possible complications from breast implants and what signs and symptoms to watch for. Also, how to screen for rupture and other complications. It’s unfortunately a mistaken expectation. There are some doctors that are on top of it, but there are many more who aren’t.
I know too many women with scenarios just like mine. In the past few years the worldwide web has made it possible to connect millions of implanted women around the world. Women with breast implants are now often more informed than their doctors. A huge take-away in my personal experience was realizing that I’d known nothing about my breast implants, and I’d put my trust in doctors who knew as little as I did.
BE INFORMED. ASK QUESTIONS. BE PERSISTENT. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY-SPEAK. JOIN SUPPORT FORUMS.
If you have breast implants and develop enlarged lymph nodes, masses or lumps request an ultrasound or MRI to check if your implants might be leaking. It’s recommended to have an MRI (or ultrasound) after the first 3 years and every 2 years subsequently. Even with saline implants the shells are still made of silicone that bleeds chemicals causing localized and systemic responses. If you have textured implants it’s crucial to become informed about the symptoms and protocol for testing for BIA-ALCL (a man-made cancer of the immune system that’s directly linked to breast implants).