What is breast implant illness?

A breast implant is done worldwide in majority cases for cosmetic purposes. They give the desired self- confidence to the patient. In some groups of patients undergoing breast implant surgery, there have been reports of some health issues. These include fatigue, joint pain, malaise, fever, and weight problems in some.

These groups of symptoms are an interest of debate amongst plastic surgeons themselves and have been called Breast Implant Illness.

It is important to understand that breast implants are not permanent. They are foreign bodies that need to be changed at some stage. Usually, the life of an implant can correspond to 10-15 years. Breast implants are made of highly cohesive silicone gel.

The latest generation implants are much safer and the risk of complications like capsular contracture, implant leak, and Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA ALCL) is much less.

Breast Implant illness patients typically report that the symptoms got better after the removal of breast implants. Whether is true or not remains a topic of debate.

Understanding Breast Implants Risks

It is important that before undergoing the procedure you understand not only the size and the results but also the risks and complications, although rare can happen.

Breast implant General Risks:

1. Infection

2. Bleeding and Hematoma formation

3. Scarring

Breast implant Specific Complications:

1. Capsular contracture

2. Change of nipple sensation

3. Asymmetry, firmness, and discomfort


5. Breast implant illness

Evidence about Breast Implant Illness

Breast implant illness still remains an elusive topic for researchers. The myriad of symptoms has led to speculation about the role of silicone implants in the development of arthritis, muscle disorders, and various collagen disorders.

However, there is currently no conclusive proof to suggest that silicone-based devices cause abnormal diseases or disorders. The findings reported by some females with breast implants about the relief of these symptoms might be anecdotal and subjective.

Breast implant: What to do now?

It is easier to decide things when they are presented in simple scenarios. Two scenarios exist in the case of Breast implant illness.

1. NO SYMPTOMS: In case of no symptoms. There is no need to get implants removed but a yearly follow up with your plastic surgeon is a must.

2. SYMPTOMS: The first thing is to rule out any symptoms because of localized implant and generalized symptoms due to any other disorder. If these have been ruled out then there is no plastic surgeon that will deny a request to remove the implant. It is important that along with implant removal, an en bloc capsulectomy is performed. It includes removal of the surrounding capsule plus helps as prophylaxis against the development of ALCL.

Breast implant: What does the future hold?

Researchers are studying different aspects of breast implants and their local and general effects on the body. Also, some societies have National Breast Registry that compiles all these data.

It is important both for plastic surgeons and patients to not be scared about Breast implants but make an informed decision with proper follow up visits!

Dr. Anmol Chugh is an internationally trained plastic surgeon with advanced aesthetic surgery training done from the Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery. He has extensively trained and performed breast augmentation surgeries under the expert guidance of world-renowned Breast plastic surgeon Dr. Graeme Southwick. To know more about Breast implants, click here.