Liz Ritter, New Beauty Executive Managing Editor |
This week, 41-year-old-actress Stephanie March got very candid about getting breast implants two summers ago (during the time she was going through her divorce with Bobby Flay).
“I decided to change my body because I couldn’t change my life. In retrospect, there were signals that this might not be the right path for me,” the Law & Order: SVU star wrote in an essay for Refinery29.
“Every implant I tried on seemed alien, too large. I didn’t feel ready to throw away my pretty bras. I worried that I’d look top-heavy. But I ignored the signs and soldiered on.”
Right after, she loved the results, but soon after that, her body rejected them—and one burst.
“I sat up in bed and felt a sickening wet mucus sliding down my chest,” she explained. “It was everywhere, soaking my shirt and the sheets. My right implant was infected and the seams of the scar on my right breast had burst. … I had a hole in my breast for six weeks while I blasted my body with antibiotics. I had the implant put back in. I had another infection and rupture on Christmas Eve. I had it taken out again. I had more cultures and tests and conversations with doctors than I care to recall.”
March then decided to have the implants removed, and the piece stresses that she does not blame the surgeon; rather, she is simply allergic to implants—something that Pepper Pike, OH, plastic surgeon Lu-Jean Feng, MD, says is a lot more common than most people think.
“Over my 28-year career I have observed that not all women are good candidates for breast implants. Underlying autoimmune conditions, certain genetic predispositions, immune intolerances, and other sensitivities preclude many women from having this type of foreign object in their body.”
“The problem is that there is no test to see who might have this reaction and who won’t. As an experienced surgeon I know that surgeons think mechanically. They don’t think about all of those inflammatory mediators that can be released by the foreign body reaction. A foreign body reaction is not benign. It can cause problems throughout the body. A foreign body reaction involves the same cells (lymphocytes and plasma cells) that are present in connective tissue and inflammatory diseases.”
Dr. Feng stresses that patients who have any history or potential for autoimmune disorders are not candidates for breast implants. “For those who do tolerate breast implants, the manufacturers advise that they be replaced every eight to 10 years. I conducted a study back in 1999, which showed that at 10 years of age, 60 percent of all implants have already developed a hole or a tear and have begun to leak. This becomes very problematic with the gel implants, which can leak into the chest cavity and migrate into the tissue, muscle and lymph nodes.”
One alternative to breast implants that provides a safe, long-term, permanent solution? Natural breast enhancement using your own fat. “In my practice I use a combination of stromal vascular fraction and platelet-rich plasma to achieve the desired results. The results are immediate, the recovery time is minimal and the scars are almost non-existent. The take of the fat graft with the added growth factors is consistent and most impressive.”