Health Concerns

Silicone breast implants were removed from the market in 1992 due to concerns that implants may be related to connective tissue disorders (lupus, scleroderma, arthritis). The claim was reversed with research and science, and the implants were placed back on the market in 2006 by the FDA.

There is no science from peer-reviewed medical journals that relates silicone breast implants to any disease. It’s theoretically possible that silicone implants may cause health issues in some patients; however, the relationship is rare. There is always the potential to react unfavorably to anything, from an implant and medication to sun exposure and peanuts. The real issue is how frequently reactions occur and the consequences.

There is no science to back Internet claims made by individuals or groups that there is a connection between silicone implants and disease. The real issue here is peace of mind. If, despite the science, you worry about health problems from implants, the simplest remedy is to have them removed or switch them out for the saline variety.

Why is there so much negative information on the Internet about breast implants? 

This is a complicated answer. First, breast implants are not perfect. Second, breast implants are offered by many providers, and some are simply better than others in terms of their results and complications. Third, women will develop medical conditions as they age, and if they have breast implants, it is easy to blame them. Fourth, some patients may react to implants, causing a disease condition, but no scientist has been able to prove that relationship. Fifth, the Internet is open to all who have an opinion even if there is no science to back up what they believe.

If I think I am having a medical problem related to my breast implants, what should I do? 

Visit with your plastic surgeon as well as a trusted medical doctor for his or her guidance.

Should I not consider breast implants if I have a medical condition such as arthritis or lupus? 

That’s a personal decision between you and your doctor. I have patients with connective tissue disorders who choose to enjoy the benefits of breast implants.

What happens if I develop a medical condition and then I have my breast implants removed? 

Removal of breast implants will obviously change the shape of your breasts and there will be a loss of volume. A breast lift may be needed if the breast does not shape up as well as you would prefer. Some patients have told me that their symptoms got better after removal, while others have noted no difference. Remember that there is always the option of replacing your breast implants if you change your mind.

Is there such a thing as an allergy to breast implants? 

Some patients tell me that their surgeon said they had an allergy to breast implants, but I think the term is incorrectly used. Maybe these doctors are referring to some abstract reaction to the breast implants, or an immune response to the breast implants that may lead to a disorder. This connection has been very difficult for scientists to prove. Silicone itself is very non-reactive to humans (this is why it is such a wonderful “filler”). Some patients whose poor breast enhancement results have been attributed to an “allergy” to breast implants might actually have had poorly performed surgery.

Should I consider breast implants if I worry about possible health problems? 

No. If you are going to be tormented by the thought of inserting something “foreign” into your body, I certainly wouldn’t recommend having breast implants placed.

Is there a test that can determine whether my breast implants are causing health problems? 

There is no specific “yes or no” test that can tell you whether your implants are causing health problems.

A few years after I got breast implants, I developed a medical condition. Was it caused by my breast implants? 

That is unlikely. It is important to consider the possibility that you were going to develop or were already developing a health problem before implants were placed. Remember that, as we age, we are subject to declining health and potential medical problems. The breast implants are most likely “coincidental” to your medical condition.

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