Good morning. I’m Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder, a plastic surgeon in private practice for 28 years in Seattle. I’m a clinical instructor at the University of Washington. I’ve traveled here at my own expense.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak about breast implant illness and explant surgery.
Breast implant illness crossed my radar screen about five years ago. Prior to then, I was very busy removing old, nasty implants and capsules from women with pain, capsular contracture, and rupture, and also because gravity, weight gain, and aging had rendered their implanted breasts no longer attractive.
I call this ‘graduation from breast implants,’ and these patients are thrilled to be implant-free.
I still see a lot of these ladies, but now I am seeing more and more women who feel their breast implants are destroying their health.
Half of them have saline implants and many have clean, intact, and aesthetically pleasing implants.
They present with a constellation of dozens of symptoms and sometimes blame their implants for disorders with clear and established etiologies. Examples from two recent patients include plantar fasciitis and glaucoma.
All of my breast implant illness patients are connected on social media, and they all suffer from anxiety and worry about what they have read about implants, commonly referred to on social media as ‘toxic bags of death.’
I have come to wonder if some of these patients are worried sick and suffer from a social contagion caught from social media.
We have turned away from our patients and they from us. Patients have turned to social media where they find overwhelmingly negative and alarmist posts about breast implants and sometimes some very bad advice.
Many of these social media sites block or exile those who question the validity of their claims.
I would implore the BII community to open your sights to conflicting opinions just as this hearing has.
The truth about breast implants is probably more complicated than any of us imagine.
We should work to find it together. And I would implore plastic surgeons, when asked to remove implants for any reason, to do so. You don’t have to embrace BII to do a good explant and capsulectomy.
My BII patients are so relieved to be free of the object of their dread, their breast implants. Many are less concerned about their post-explant appearance than I am, and most of them feel better after explant, sometimes right in my recovery room.
Is this real or the placebo effect? Either way, I’ll take it.
I’ve never been a big fan of breast implants. I recognize the problems with breast implants and the suffering in this room, and I support the implant registries, and I would ask why did it take us so long to create these registries?
Thank you so much.
[Open public comment given by Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder, at the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel, FDA White Oak Campus, Building #31, Great Room, on March 26, 2019. The title of this article does not constitute part of the speaker’s presentation to the FDA Panel, and any hyperlinks within the text or text appearing in brackets were added for clarity or ease of use by editors.]