Infrared Sauna Exposure and Breast Implants
What are the risks, if any, associated with exposure to infrared heat and infrared energy for women who have breast implants? First, let’s take a look at the two types of breast implants so that we can understand what is being exposed during an infrared session.
There are two basic types of breast implants, Saline and Silicone. They both use a silicone outer shell that is filled with a more fluid interior substance. Saline implants are filled with salt water which is harmless in the case of leakage. It is the silicone substance that poses the problems.
Silicone is derived from silicon, the same silicon that is used for computers which is semi-metallic and combines with oxygen to form silica. Silica in natural form is one of the most abundant substances on earth and can be found in crystals and quartz and in the form of sand on the beach. For implants, silica is processed to form a polymer called silicone and can then be made into the form of a gel or a rubbery substance. There are risks associated with the silicone and breast implants.
Implant rupture risk:
With the saline version, the body will absorb excess saline with no adverse consequences where there is a leak or rupture. Surgery will then be needed, however, to replace or remove the deflated shell.
With silicone implants there is always a risk of what is known as a silent rupture where the silicone leaks without someone knowing and tends to remain within the encapsulated fibrous tissue that forms around the implant outer shell and may remain unnoticed for some time.
There are differing professional opinions as to the level of risks.
According to a 2018 Mayo Clinic article, “Leaking silicone gel isn’t thought to cause health problems, such as breast cancer, reproductive problems or rheumatoid arthritis. Still, a ruptured silicone breast implant might eventually cause breast pain, breast thickening, or changes in the contour or shape of the breast.” ¹
When rupture happens, women have experienced painful shrinking of the fibrous outer encasing of the implants, spilling of saline (a harmless solution) into the body and other pains including post-operative muscle spasms.
“Some women have claimed even more potentially serious problems, alleging that the silicone in implants, particularly the silicone gel inside the implant sac, can cause connective tissue or other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, neurological disorders, cancer, and even new silicone-related diseases.” ²
With some implant types there is a low risk of developing a type of cancer know as BIA-ALCL which is the acronym for breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma. It is not a breast cancer but it may require chemotherapy, radiation or surgery to treat.
Safety research of both implant types is ongoing.
Specific to breast implants and exposure to infrared saunas, I have found very little research and have discovered only limited information on the topic. This is probably due to the fact that the silicone used for breast implants is not subject to compositional breakdown from the relatively low level of heat exposure to infrared saunas. Traditional non-infrared saunas can expose an individual to up to 200º F, or 93º C, whereas infrared sauna sessions rarely involve temperatures over 150º F. In the case of infrared fitness training, HOTWORX, for example uses 125º F for workout sessions.
Here’s a common sense question. Would a woman with breast implants refrain from laying out by the pool in a place like Las Vegas in the middle of summer for several hours? Probably not. The intensity of infrared from the sun is very high (yet not harmful) in an environment such as a mid-summer day in Vegas. The workout inside of a HOTWORX infrared sauna is very similar to an outdoor workout in a climate such as that of a dry, hot summer day out west. There is no credible evidence that would lead me to believe that a woman with breast implants should avoid working out in an infrared environment with reasonable heat levels such as 125º F.
Silicone melts at 392º Fahrenheit (200º Celsius). Of course, no human would submit themselves to an oven-like environment that would allow their body to reach a core temperature that would begin to melt silicone.
As for the sauna, while it is true that silicone implants may cool down more slowly than the rest of the body after a sauna session, there is no evidence that this is has a detrimental effect. I did read several threads in online chats and all of them noted that when they asked their doctor about infrared sauna exposure they were told that it poses no problem for their implants.
The medical industry does go to great lengths to ensure safety with breast implants. Medical grade silicones are purified to meet the highest requirements for industry standards. Silicones are considered non-toxic (or toxic to a very small extent) to humans and to the environment for the most part. However, there are scientific experts who question this common belief. ³
Here is one thing that is worth consideration. Infrared sauna use accelerates detox. Infrared induced sweating yields high levels of body detoxification. Women who have breast implants should consider infrared for detox as silicone is a polymer and could be a potential source of toxic substances. It stands to reason that elevated detox may be good to rid toxicants that might be released into the body from the presence of silicone implants.
It seems that a good course of action would be to listen to your body and pay close attention to how you feel during and after an infrared sauna session or an infrared workout. One thing is for sure, the level of toxic substances within your body will decrease with the use of an infrared sauna.
Of course, the best advice is to consult with your doctor if you have concerns regarding breast implants and exposure to infrared saunas.