Do breast implants cause illness? Are some women predisposed to developing illness with medical devices like breast implants? Is it the implants themselves causing issues or a response to them?  Breast implant illness is a real condition that causes chronic inflammation and wreaks havoc on the immune system leading to a variety of health problems, including imbalances in hormones, loss of libido, difficulty losing weight, and a lowered ability to detox from environmental toxins, heavy metals, and mold. Dr. Robert Whitfield s a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 26 years of experience and has performed 1800 plus explant surgeries to date. He specializes in breast implant removal surgery, breast implant illness and advanced cosmetic procedures. He received his medical degree from the University of Las Vegas School of Medicine, completed six years of surgical training, including a plastic surgery residency at Indiana University Medical Center.
After his residency, Dr. Rob relocated to Austin, Texas, where he has become renowned for his cosmetic expertise.  In this episode of The Health Fix Podcast, Dr. Jannine Krause interviews Dr. Robert Whitfield on the myths surrounding breast implant illness, what he’s learned about this condition and why it’s crucial for women to advocate for their health. 

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What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • The chronic inflammatory process of breast implant illness
  • Why any medical device could set off a chronic inflammatory condition if there are predisposing factors in the body
  • The interplay between genetic detox issues, heavy metals, environmental exposures, glyphosate, food sensitivities, mold & breast implants
  • Why vitamin D, methylation & antioxidant pathway mutations can set one up for breast implant illness
  • Why mold encapsulating implants is largely a myth (he’s only seen 6 of 1800+ cases)
  • What Dr. Rob is seeing in terms of implant biofilm rates in the 900+ women studied
  • Dr. Rob’s Holistic Accelerated Recovery Program 

Resources From The Show:

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Podcast Transcription

2:18 – How Dr. Whitfield got into breast implant illness

7:21 – Other considerations when dealing with a weakened immune system and chronic inflammation

9:33 – Is there a way to rule out breast implant illness?

10:36 – 3 ways bacteria could have transferred to the implant

12:21 – Typical discussion had with patients around breast implant illness

14:42 – Description of Dr. Whitfields program

18:53 – Common myths around breast implant illness

23:15 – Which companies does Dr. Whitfield use for DNA testing

25:52 – What are ERAS? Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

27:12 – Leaky Implant?  What should you do?

28:48 – How common are leaky implants?

30:21 – Are there any correlations between beast implants and cancer in the patients you have treated?

31:57 – Would Dr. Whitfield advise his wife or daughter to get breast implants?

35:33 – What kind of things should someone interested in an explant look for in a doctor?


JANNINE: [Intro] Welcome to the Health Fix Podcast, where health junkies get their weekly

fix of tips, tools, and techniques to have limitless energy, sharp minds, and fit

physiques for life.

Hey health junkies, on this episode of the Health Fix Podcast, I’m interviewing

Dr. Robert Whitfield, and we’re going to be talking about breast implant illness.

Dr. Robert Whitfield is a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 26 years of

experience. He specializes in breast implant removal surgery, breast implant illness, and

advanced cosmetic procedures. He was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, and received

his medical degree from the University of Las Vegas School of Medicine. He then completed

six years of surgical training, including a plastic surgery residency at Indiana University

Medical Center. Now, he is now practicing in Austin, Texas, where he has become renowned

for his cosmetic expertise.

He is definitely passionate about helping women

understand the importance of advocating for your health

and understanding that breast implant illness

can cause chronic inflammation in the body

and it can wreak havoc on your entire immune system.

And of course it can cause a variety of health problems

including imbalanced hormones, loss of libido,

difficulty losing weight, and a lowered ability

to detox from environmental toxins,

heavy metals, and mold.

So Dr. Robert Whitfield has a ton of information for us.

Let’s introduce you to him so you can learn more

about breast implant illness.

All right, folks, I got Dr. Rob on today,

and we’re gonna be talking about breast implant illness,

something that I’ve been seeing in my office quite a bit.

folks are asking me questions and also looking for qualified docs that know what’s going

on in this department.

So Dr. Rob, welcome to Health Fix Podcast.

ROBERT: Well, thanks for having me on.

JANNINE: So big thing here, of course, that everyone wants to know when they first find out that

a doc is specializing in breast implant illness, how did you come to specialized in this department?

ROBERT: Traditionally, in my practice of taking care of breast cancer patients, predominantly.

So I taught microsurgery for breast reconstruction and for head neck reconstruction and sarcoma

reconstruction for many years.

And then I left the academic setting and went to Austin in 2012.

And I joined a group practice and basically did the same things.

And we would always see patients, whether they’re cosmetic or breast reconstruction

patients with implant related issues, sometimes they would just come to me specifically for

expertise regarding a malposition. So the implants were not at the correct levels, or

they may have had to capture contracture, or they may have problems with radiation injury

or, you know, infections or something like that throughout, you know, the course of

their time with implants either from breast reconstruction or from cosmetics.

And in 2016, I had a patient come who was a breast cancer survivor. She had an implant-based

reconstruction done in, uh, Georgia, and she had retired in Austin and didn’t want her

reconstruction anymore. She wanted to be flat. And, uh, from, uh, you know, time to time patients,

you’re reached that conclusion or that point in their life, and they no longer want a  breast

reconstruction and they’ll seek, you know, advice about, you know, what to do about it, what techniques.

And, um, we did her work up and there wasn’t anything concerning. Um, totally agreed with their

decision to do that. So she had to be taken care of in a hospital. She had an underlying medical

condition. So she needed overnight status. So I did her case to get all the capsular material

and the old implant material sent it all off to be examined for pathology to make sure there’s

no recurrent cancer because you can obviously want to make sure that and press cancer survivor.

And then you always look for any signs of infection in the pocket. And on her results

of pathology, she had no recurrent cancer, but she had on her microbiology, which looks for bacteria

and fungus and mycobacterium E. coli. And the amount of E. coli she had was consistent

with an infection. So she had had an underlying infection this whole time. The only symptoms she

really gave us that was a hit in retrospect was she had fatigue. But I’ve taken care of cancer

patients since the 90s and many of them through bone marrow suppression and their therapies have

fatigue. So that’s a pretty routine issue for them. So my sister’s a breast cancer survivor,

and I would have been really upset if someone had missed an infection, you know, on my sister.

And when I went back through all the notes and exams and encounters we had, and I couldn’t find

you know, anything that would give me a clue about that. So I put her on antibiotic therapy

based on what the culture showed in the sensitivity patterns of the culture. And within, you know,

two weeks. She was doing much better and had a month follow up. Most of her fatigue had had

resolved. So she had fatigue due to underlying infection. And once that was removed, she obviously

did better. And that’s all documented. There’s no question about it. From that point, I believe she

put me on a message board through either Facebook or other boards. And I started having people

self referred to me to do ex plants. And I, you know, having that, you know, encounter was

really concerning to me because then I didn’t really know how to rely on the information we were

being faced with because none of it had given me an idea that there was a problem. So if

If someone came and wanted their breast reconstruction or cosmetic augmentation taken

out and, you know, we went through the process with them, you know, I would help them, you

know, do that.

Now, fast forward, I’ve done probably over 1,800 explants for both, you know, predominantly

now cosmetic patients, but I just had a cancer patient on yesterday from California and they’ve

we’ve had lots of problems with autoimmune issues

and with fatigue and just all these symptoms

of chronic inflammation.

So for the audience,

so when people ask me what I consider

to be breast and plant illness,

breast implant illness is to me a very,

it’s a chronic inflammatory process

and it doesn’t lend itself easily to a diagnosis

and that’s why it’s super confusing to providers.

So it does have a component where there’s a medical device.

And in my opinion, it could be a number of devices

involved with something like this.

It could be a hip, a knee, a breast, a dental, cardiac,

spinal implant, whatever.

Any of those things that are foreign can lend themselves

to having biofilm and become a problem for your immune system.

But there are always other factors.

So we look at folks’ genetics because you only

have a certain amount of genetic capability to detox.

And once you exceed that, you’ll have more signs of inflammation.

If you’re faced over and over again, either through your environment,

like where you work or where you sleep or where you live,

you’ll get exposures, chemical exposures, depending on the water.

You may have things in your water, like arsenic.

Groundwater can be contaminated with arsenic very routinely.

I know where I grew up it was.

You can have other problems, heavy metals.

You certainly can have– and we see a lot of this in Texas,

mold exposures. So, I mean, there’s a number of things that affect you. And we know the

food sources are not getting better. They’re getting worse. So glyphosate are typically

a problem. And then I look at people’s food sensitivities to be, to be frank, you could

be eating and trying to do very well. But if you don’t understand certain things that

stimulate you, not just gluten and dairy products, but, you know, maybe in an avocado or something,

You never know it’s going to cause a problem and then we evaluate everybody’s hormones.

So like we paint this big broad picture to figure out systematically what is going on.

But to me, it’s just, breast implant illness is chronic inflammation, the device is one

component of it.

JANNINE: Sure.

Sure.

And this is something that, you know, I think a lot of patients will see coming into my

office.

And because we’re getting more and more traction with folks talking about breast implant illness,

it’s often the first thought that if they do have implants, they’re like, that’s got

to be it.

to be my problem, and I’d love for you to kind of speak about how you would just set.

There’s more factors there.

So I guess one of the big things is probably how do we know, if someone’s suspecting,

how do we know for sure what would be the test that you would put them through to look

at the actual implant is an ultra sound.

Give folks a little scoop of like, yes, maybe we might do genetic testing, maybe we might

do the food sensitivity.

But if someone’s like, do I have something going on with my breast implants, what would

be the first thing some you would do to kind of rule it out or make it as a possibility?

ROBERT: Yeah.

To be honest, a physical exam, people can have no findings.

And then on MRI, ultrasound, mammogram, they can have no findings.

So there’s not a specific diagnostic study that’s going to help you say someone has that

problem.

JANNINE: Mm-hmm.

ROBERT: I don’t worry about them anymore.

So I don’t, you know, I consider somebody who’s had devices, who’s having those symptoms,

who’s done the standard allopathic workup, and that’s been negative.

And they’ve been to, usually patients come to me after they’ve seen multiple specialists

and integrative practitioners and not got resolution of their inflammation.

So it’s not a, I can tell you after I do an explant and send it off a PCR analysis,

It’s on it at about a third of the time.

It has biofilm and that biofilm is usually cutie bacteria and acnes, which is found in

large concentrations.

It’s a bacteria found in large concentrations on your chest, face, shoulders and neck.

JANNINE: That’s interesting.

So transfer would have happened during surgery or what’s no idea, just something that that’s

what landed.

ROBERT: It would be hematogenous to spread.

So I mean, the three likely routes for the audience, for somebody to get a contaminant,

It would be at the time the device is handed to the surgeon.

The surgeon putting in the device and the third would be hematogenous.

That’s the most common obviously.

So if you got a cold, a urinary tract infection, a GI problem and those bacteria get into your

bloodstream or somebody has a skin infection or in this case acne gets picked erupts.

It gets into your bloodstream.

I mean, this is going on forever.

That’s why typically any patient having a mechanical valve or prosthetic placement of

any variety, like a joint or anything, obviously you make sure their teeth are fine, you make

sure they don’t have an infection, because if that becomes blood-borne in or around

the time of their procedure and it contaminates their device, then you’ve caused them quite

a bit.

That’s a very difficult problem.

What’s that because?

JANNINE: Mm-hmm.

Mm-hmm.

No, absolutely important.

And so I think, you know, one of the things that I wanted to talk about today, especially

for the folks who, you know, are contemplating, do I have something going on?

What do, you know, what kind of things do we want to consider pros and cons of an ex-plant

things of that nature?

What what are usually to talk with folks about in that department when they’re coming in

and saying, Hey, you know, I’ve got these factors, maybe, you know, it’s been identified

that there is a low-grade inflammation, infection kind of thing. Maybe they’ve gone to the point

where they’ve got autoimmune things happening. What’s the evaluation and discussion that you

have in the office about pros and cons of explants? 

ROBERT: Usually the folks are really… I don’t

convince anybody really to do anything. You convinced themselves before they ever show up.

They’re very self-selected to this point. They’ve decided they don’t want to have devices anymore.

So, it becomes a discussion of, you know, what fits them in their situation. Some people

just want to have the explant done and they want to work with their practitioner and try to recover

and they’re not really interested in anything else. Others will have interest in, you know,

if they, for instance, had a wider breast or low-set breast from

pregnancies and child and breastfeeding, etc. Then they’ll want some kind of rejuvenative procedure.

And then there’ll be a group of folks who are just super concerned about, they’ve had

implants for a very, very long time, and this is the aesthetic they’re used to, and if it changes

abruptly, what’s it going to be like for them? So we provide all levels of, you know,

Circle service to help that, whether it’s the ex plan alone or an ex plant where we do some sort

of reshaping or lifting procedure. And then of course, I do a lot of people come for fat transfers,

which I do simultaneously a lot. But to get a fat transfer with us or pretty much any procedure

with us, you run through our program. I’ve done over 1800 explants, but I have a specific program

we put people through our heart program to help just level the plan field for them. We know it

lowers inflammation to a certain degree, but actually to get all the, you know, if you want to

get back to their baseline or whatever that new baseline is going to be for them. We feel that

the device, if it’s really acting as a big generator, has to be removed.

JANNINE: Okay. Let’s talk about your program for a little bit, because I saw on your website,

you’ve got a lot of different things in terms of binders and clearing and glutathione and things

of that nature. Is that something that is on the forefront of the program, helping folks to detox

better, working on maybe genetic mutations within the liver cells, and then on the back end after

removing and the explant, I’m guessing you have a specific procedure as well that goes on.

ROBERT: Yeah, the program, surgical program runs for a year around the time of your surgery.

So we try to get people started on a laboratory evaluation, so we have those genetic tests,

toxicity tests, food sensitivity, and got microbiome testing as well as

we’ll look at hormones and other traditional lab values.

We get to get all that done up front to see what is your specific set of issues. So if you had a

bad mold exposure, if you had heavy metals, if you have a bunch of glyphosate, stylates,

BPAs, whatever. We want to start working on that now. We don’t want to react to what’s going on

after surgery. We want to be upfront and proactive with that. We’re very clear on the genetic

predisposition of this patient population. Many of them have problems with vitamin D,

metabolism, methylation, glutathione, and actiaoxidate pathway. So all of our supplements geared

towards lowering inflammation, the majority of them are liposomal, so there’s no issue

with gut absorption. And we know those work to help lower inflammation. We’ve got plenty

of experience with that way, then set up somebody to work with our detox practitioner. If in

fact, there’s a bad or series of bad findings on the toxicity tests and we do almost a little

preliminary phase one detox will Cell Core we partner with and then surgery and then there’s that

you know period of time after surgery so I see folks the first week after surgery a month

three six nine twelve months but that’s the surgical follow-up the detox follow-up usually

is running three and four month intervals concurrently to that. 

JANNINE: Wow wow so definitely a lot

heftier of a program, then I have seen with other docs out there because it seems that it

kind of runs the gamut and I’d love for you to kind of explain a couple things because I have had

patients who have come into my office and have done kind of a little bit of detox beforehand,

afterwards, explant surgery, then it’s just, okay, now your body’s going to return to baseline.

So I’d love to kind of have you give a little, I guess probably in what you’ve seen with those

1800 cases, the detox component, the follow-up, and going through for a whole year, because

a lot of folks might be thinking like, “Oh, wow, a whole year. This is quite intense.”

ROBERT: Yeah. I mean, if you had a pair of implants, I mean, I guess on average, I’ve got people

with as short as a few years, and I’ve got people into having implants for 30 or 40 years.

So if you had something, we’ll just consider a inflammatory process for many, many years,

we’re not going to solve it in a week or two weeks or two months or maybe even two years.

It’s not that easy. So depending on your genetics, depending on your already existing

exposures, how you eat, drink, the air you breathe, it’s going to dictate the large majority how

you recover. So our program is set up to help you recover efficiently by acting preemptively on

things that, you know, we already can identify and work on with you. And then postoperatively,

it’s more about, you know, maintaining a certain, you know, diet, and then modifying the things

you can control. Everybody can control better their water and the food. The food in this situation

is the thing along with supplementation. So it’s going to help you heal. So we already

leverage the lymphatic system. I don’t use drains during surgery anymore. We use hyperbaric

oxygen in the office. We encourage folks to do both those things on their own as well.

But principally, instructing them on diets, making sure that their diets, helping them

not hurting them, and then letting them recover over time.

these, you know, short of those who are infected, they’re going to recover at different intervals.

JANNINE: That makes sense. That makes sense. So there’s a lot of different folks out there kind of

sharing their stories on Instagram and social media and there’s definitely some myths around

breast implant illness and really implants in general. I’d love for you to share like the most

common things you hear, what you’re working with in terms of helping dispel these kind of

mess with patients when they come into the office.

ROBERT: Yeah, I believe in the in 24, we’ll have our study out about biofilm.

So, you know, we’ll have the largest experience with that.

I think we have in that study, 943 consecutive samples, something of that nature.

It’s over 900.

And it’s 30% is the rate of biofilm in that in that study and the or the incidents.

And then the bacteria, as I said, is key bacteria [inaudible].

So I think there’s a lot of things that are kind of spewed on the internet about moldy

implants and this and that’s not the case.

I have, I think, six instances of that out of 1800.

JANNINE: Interesting.

That is something that I hear quite a bit from patients that they’ll come in and say,

“Hey, I had mold in my home.

I swear my implants have to have mold all around them.”

And then, of course, comes in a Instagram story or something of that nature.

that’s interesting. 

ROBERT: Yeah, I mean, honestly, it’s not compatible both life to have a bunch

of mold around your implant. That’s not going to work. So that’s a myth. It’s not accurate.

Beyond that, I mean, the other fallacy is like, you know, people are magically going to be better

right after the surgery in the recovery room. Everything’s going to change and it’s going to

be the epiphony, I would say that’s an unrealistic expectation to set. Many of these

cases are not. They’re not easy to do. They may have had multiple surgeries. People may

be relatively unwell to begin with, since that’s why we work with them up front.

So I think it’s a very unrealistic expectation that the place on a poor patient who’s not,

but they’re in a vulnerable situation to begin with. And then to make it appear as though this is

just going to be the change all of a sudden after surgery. I mean, I have taken care of folks who’ve

done and gotten better really quickly after surgery. And I would love for everybody to do that, but

I’ve done, like I said, over 1800, that’s not the case in the majority of instances.

JANNINE: Oh, I’m glad you’re mentioning it that way, because it, you know, as society is, we want

the quick fix. And, you know, of course, we would love for the breasts to come out,

explant surgery done. And then all of a sudden you’re, you’re this new person, you drop 100 pounds,

and you know, you feel amazing. And unfortunately, you know, working with women, being a woman myself,

you know, we want those things, especially with our body and shape and things of that nature.

So when it doesn’t happen, I will see folks who will comment and say, yeah, I don’t feel better,

but I love the fact that you’re explaining like, hey, this is something that you had

that illness before, maybe you had the predispositions with genetics, things of that nature,

even going into this. So it’s quite important for folks to really realize that as a whole,

and that’s why I was very interested in the fact that you have a year program because I don’t see

that um quite as often with some of the folks that I’ve seen that have had

asked explants and come into my office it’s like surgery done and you know.

ROBERT:  Well

I can’t operate on everybody obviously so sure come to Austin so people can run

our program remote so you know we feel like we can help more people that way I

feel you know there’s a lot of good surgeons uh trying to help take care of

of these patients and I obviously can’t do them all.

But our team is set up to work with folks

and help them and take advantage of what we know.

And next year I’ll have a book coming out

just about the surgical program.

JANNINE: Okay, nice.

Nice.

I think that’s really important for folks to hear,

especially for those that have a little bit more

going on heading into these things.

So of course, one of the big questions I get

from folks is with the genetic testing.

You know, a lot of folks have done 23andMe

and I usually explain that it’s probably going to be,

depending on whoever you’re seeing,

a more expanded DNA test.

Are you using DNA company?

Who are you using for the DNA testing,

just out of curiosity?

ROBERT: Yeah, we currently, I’ve used,

well, I had this discussion last night

with a bunch of people and I’ve been curious about genetics

since I was in college, which seems a very long time ago now,

but with the advances in computing

and the completion of the genome project,

and as I go back and look at it,

you just learn more and more.

And we do have a strong relationship

with the DNA company.

There’s a new company in Vision Labs

that we’re gonna be looking at.

So we want to always provide clients

with the best options to everything.

Everybody, our goal is to try to really tailor

the experience.

So if I can understand better

what your genetics are, you know, how do you metabolize something as simple as fats?

Like, you can really modify a diet, you know, for instance, somebody says that a keto diet

doesn’t work. Well, of course, a keto diet works. I mean, come on. The only thing that

fails in a keto diet is when you start adding too much fat in the diet, if you can’t metabolize

fats, then you fail because your body can’t handle that. So I mean, ketones, like you’d

be dead if ketones don’t work in your body. So of course, a keto diet can work. It just depends

really on your metabolism. So when we look at genetics, we’re trying to be more precise

about how we tailor the experience for the patients, including their anesthetic experiences.

So in 24, in the new year, we’re looking to really add more and more pharmacodynamic information

to our plans so that we can help our anesthesia providers who are all great anyway, but they

they need as much information to make that part of the case more efficient and simple

for the for our patients.

JANNINE: That’s neat that you’re even thinking about that because in, you know, this is something

I think a lot of folks wouldn’t really think of as part of their process and obviously

detox of the anesthesia is just important of detox in general of environmental toxins

and things of that nature.

So that’s that is that’s fascinating to me as as a genetic geek going, Oh, wow, we’re

looking all the way into types of,

I’m guessing types of anesthetics,

how much different types of protocols

that you might run in IVs while they’re getting surgery too,

or give us a little breakdown

on how that kind of looks just in general.

ROBERT: Well, you want to know how certain folks

will metabolize things like narcotics.

So nobody really wants to take narcotics after surgery.

And we minimize that in our program

by running what’s called an ERAS or early recovery

after surgery and/or enhance recovery after surgery.

The program we run starts the night before

with things to calm down the nervous system,

reduce inflammation, reduce nausea,

and runs for the first two weeks after

the things with understanding more about,

not so much the inhalational agents

that the anesthesia folks have to use,

but then the drugs that they may need to give IV,

how they’re gonna respond to those.

And then afterwards for our clarity,

trying to work on what would be the best situation for them

from a narcotic standpoint, or just anxiety standpoint,

if they need things, what would work better for them?

And certain, like somebody has a P450 issue,

they’ll require a different type of plan

versus somebody who doesn’t.

JANNINE: Gotcha, gotcha.

It’s fascinating stuff, and I think a lot of folks,

maybe if they’ve gone down different rabbit holes

of research online, they might have gathered

some information, but as a majority, I think a lot of folks aren’t thinking about these

kind of things going into a surgery.

So one of the other questions I get and I’d be curious, Dr. Rob, is to your thought process

on this.

I have some clients who have old implants who are now having some leaking, and let’s

put it this way, we did an ultrasound on one gal maybe a couple months ago, and it looked

like her silicone was leaking out of the implants. And she went to a specialist specialist said,

you know, they’re leaking, but you’ve had them this long. It’s probably not an issue. I would love

to hear kind of how you talk with folks about situations like this. Is it more possible for

a leaking implant to cause illness in someone? Give us a scoop on that so folks can understand a

a little bit better. And the type of implant to silicone versus saline versus that situation.

JANNINE: Well, all the devices have the same shell, silicone or saline. So it’s always a silicone

shell. If there’s a device failure and a saline implant, it goes flat. So that’s an obvious

and they would show up with a change in the volume because it would have

leaked and that salt water that it should have been inside the device gets absorbed.

So that’s an obvious one. I mean, a silicone device that’s failing or leaking needs to be removed,

whether it’s a cancer patient or cosmetic patient, it’s not appropriate to leave that in.

JANNINE: Okay, good to know, good to know. Is this anything that you use, you come up against in terms of

patients, how common is it for silicone or even saline implants to leak that you see?

ROBERT:  I would say, I don’t see ruptures that routinely

in implants placed after 2013

because of the shell technology,

but implants placed in the 80s and 90s, I do.

JANNINE: Okay.

ROBERT: [inaudible]

JANNINE: Okay, and out of the patients that you’ve seen

that have been maybe more severe,

or let’s put it this way, more severe.

Let’s go with that.

Do you find any correlation to the older implants compared to the new, or it doesn’t

matter based on, you know, what they’re coming in with in their, in their bodies, kind of

pre-decisions.

ROBERT: Yeah.

I think the, the complexity of the question belies the testing and what you find and then

they’re all each going to be there on unique case.

When you try to put all those together, it’s, that’s a hard one, you know, for us.

I mean, we see folks who’ve worked, you know, they’ve probably seen a practitioner that’s

helped them from an inflammation standpoint, and I mean, an integrated practitioner.

So they’ve already probably at that point tried to do some things outside of the box.

So it’s, you know, kind of that question’s not a fair fight for me anymore because the

patients I see are so selectively biased towards, you know, coming to me.

JANNINE: Sure.

Sure.

Yeah, I could see that.

I could see that.

some of the questions I’ve had in my office before and different things that folks are asking me.

One of the other things that I get asked a lot is, is it common when you have breast implant

illness to also be more predisposed to breast cancer and cancers in particular?

ROBERT: Oh, I’ve asked a good question. I’ve had two instances of breast cancer and one instance of

lymphoma and all those cases. There will be people who go on to have breast cancer because

it’s such a prevalent condition. But our body has a surveillance system with the in-case cells

that helps reduce our susceptibility to cancer. And then breast cancer is obviously got a lot

of hormonal influence. So estrogen toxicity plays a big role. So once you’re going back

to your genetics, if you’re someone who detoxes poorly, if you’re someone has estrogen toxicity,

you’re obviously going to be more predisposed to that. If you had a family history of it,

you’re even more predisposed to that. So those play more of a role in it to me than a device-related

situation. 

JANNINE: Okay. So kind of one of the other things that happens within the alternative

medicine industry and also within, let’s put this away, maybe social media as a whole, as folks are

really blaming the devices when, in fact, it does sound like maybe if we should be, if we’re

considering putting in a breast implant, we maybe should be thinking proactively about

what are genetics, what kind of detox mechanisms do we have, that kind of stuff before we actually

consider a breast implant instead of folks going, “Oh, it’s all the implants, not the actual human

in that case.  

ROBERT: Yeah, I get asked all the time, people try to pigeonhole me on shows and in

conversations would I let my wife get breast implants or would I let my daughter get

get it pressed in plants and so the the discussion is more of because I understand the genetics

behind it. I know how someone can detox you. You would want to know that to know their

metabolism of their sex hormones, you know, that would help you understand estrogen toxicity

better. And then so my daughter’s a Leo like me. So despite me being able to explain anything

in a practical manner, somebody’s going to still make their own decisions. You just want

them to make an informed decision. So it’s not about that. It’s just like explaining it properly.

But people are going to decide, you’re not going to tell my daughter what to do when she’s 18, 19,

20, 21, 20, whatever they’re going to do what they want to do regardless. They’ve already

probably in their head decided what they want to do. And the timing of it becomes the issue only,

I can explain all the information given my experience and try to help make a better,

more shared decision, but they’re still going to make their own decisions.

JANNINE: Absolutely.

Absolutely.

I think it’s just something that, you know, awareness and being aware now that we have

the information going in that folks can take the information should they choose.

I think one of the places in which I would look at this as to host breast cancer, maybe

a total mastectomy and someone’s like, okay, I don’t want to be flat going forward.

they’re 30 years old early breast cancer and they’re going, okay, what do I do next?

That would be one of the things that in my mind, I would think, you know, could that

be something, you know, that’s relevant.

ROBERT: Well, sure.

Yeah.

And that was my niche for a long period of time from 05 to 19, I predominantly took

care of breast cancer patients and I performed the procedure called the DIEP free flap, which

was a muscle sparing nerve sparing procedure to take the lower abdominal tissue and use

that instead of discarding like a tummy tuck,

use that to create a breast mount.

And so that’s also how I took care of patients

who had implant-based reconstructions,

who had infections or radiation injuries,

or needed to get out of that reconstructive technique

for whatever reason, ’cause it was using your own tissue,

which is your own genetic material.

It’s not gonna be rejected.

You just have to have a high success rate,

which we did, it was well above 95% in our group.

And that was a great option.

But of course, you have to have, you know,

enough lower abdominal tissue to do that.

And in some people who are lower body weight

and need a bilateral reconstruction,

that became a more challenging problem,

but can still be done.

JANNINE: Gotcha, gotcha.

Interesting.

I mean, stuff I know nothing about, not in my wheelhouse,

but definitely fascinating things and questions

that I get in my practice as a whole.

So, you know, I think at this point, folks are probably like,

okay, cool, you know, there’s a program.

We’ve got that kind of stuff going on.

It looks, you know, incredibly,

from what I’ve seen online,

incredibly comprehensive, which I love.

And I think that’s fascinating.

A lot of folks will ask me, Dr. Rob, you know,

who do I know, who have I talked with things of that nature?

And as far as I know,

I haven’t seen as comprehensive of a program

as what you have going on.

I guess my next thing to round out the podcast here,

it would be if someone is contemplating explant,

they kind of know they want to do one.

They’re looking for the right fit of a doc.

What kind of things would you recommend

that they look into?

What kind of questions should they be asking,

things of that nature?

ROBERT: Well, we put together an FAQ on my show,

breast implant illness just to answer a bunch of these

so people can just sit back and take in the things

that they should know.

So when they go to communicate about, you know, surgery,

like what, what should be looking for.

So somebody who actually does them, you know,

fairly routinely, you don’t want to have somebody

who does one a month.

I mean, I do eight or 10 a week.

So repetitions and experience obviously are always important.

It’s not that you have to have a cancer background.

You’re a little bit more familiar with what you’re dealing

with when you’re doing these removals

and taking out all the scar tissue.

If in fact you did that.

So like I said, when we used to take these out

and convert them from a breast reconstruction

to a tissue reconstruction,

we would take all that material out.

So just like when the patient I took care of initially

in 2016, I told you about,

it wasn’t very difficult for me to do all that

because I’d done all that before.

So it’s not a new thing.

And then in the cosmetic situations,

There are some different nuances and techniques,

but they’re all safe.

The procedure is safe.

It’s not going to puncture the lung,

and you’re not going to do all these things

that people are worried about.

So injury, personally, you’re not going to enter them long at all.

If you did anything, the scar could

make a little hole in the outside lining,

which is the outside is not the lung itself,

and it lets air in.

And that won’t prevent the lung from expanding.

But if you get the air out and then close that,

it’s not going to cause the patient any harm

is just recognizing that.

That should be less than, you know, a handful per thousand.

And you can have obviously bleeding.

That’s the number one thing with any surgery

is a problem of bleeding.

So those things tend to take people back

to operating reps that once again,

that should be a handful out of a thousand.

There really shouldn’t be problems with infections at a given rate, you know,

maybe 1% of minds are lower than that.

I don’t eat a drain tubes, which helps.

Um, I think, you know, having just enough experience to have a good discussion,

the provider in my position should understand the concept of what the patient

describing and not, um, belittle it or gas light it or not recognize it.

And if you’re not comfortable with that provider,

when speaking to them about it,

then that’s not the right provider.

JANNINE: Absolutely, absolutely.

And obviously you have your podcast,

which I’d love for you to speak about with folks

so that folks can understand,

you’ve got the Breast Implant Illness Podcast

where you’re talking all things breast implant illness

and that gives a lot more resource as well.

And that can be found, I’m guessing,

anywhere you find podcasts.

ROBERT: Yeah, it’s on Apple and Spotify,

Breast Implant Illness with Dr. Robert Whitfield,

you should type in my full name,

all the shows I’ve been on will pop up

and then my show will pop up.

It just discusses Breast Implant Illness

and then at breastimplantillness.com.

I’m sorry, at breastimplantillnessexpert

and then we have the same URL

so you can go there and get information, I believe.

Everything’s as descriptive there as well and links to help.

JANNINE: Awesome, awesome.

You know, it’s great stuff.

I’m glad that you’re bringing light to this,

talking about it with the podcast as well, because there are folks asking at least every

week in my office about their breasts, what’s going on and could there be some illness involved?

So big, big stuff going on with that.

I sincerely appreciate the work that you’re doing.

And look forward to putting this podcast out to share more information with folks.

ROBERT: Thank you.

JANNINE: [Outro] (upbeat music) Hey, fellow health junkie, thanks for listening to the Health Fix Podcast.

If you enjoy tuning in, please help support me to get the word out about the podcast.

subscribe, rate, and review and just get that word out. Thanks again for listening.

Jannine Krause

Get back to your wild, active, vibrant self

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