Dr. Patti Flint

Breast Implant Illness…Does It Exist?

The lay press is at it again, whipping up fear and anxiety amongst women with breast implants regarding the possibility of various illnesses that they feel are related to breast implants.  Plastic surgeons are scientists and therefore rely on scientific data to determine risks and potential negative outcomes of the procedures we do and the devices we use.  I feel confident when I say, there is no current scientific data that supports the notion that breast implants cause auto-immune or other diseases. This issue has been studied in great detail.  An exhaustive review by an Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel found no link between silicone breast implants and serious autoimmunological diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, two of the conditions frequently claimed in legal actions to be the result of breast implantation. Settlements with litigants making such claims have totaled billions of dollars.

That is NOT to say that some women with breast implants don’t get these diseases…just like some women without breast implants get these diseases.  Further study is definitely warranted, and I have great compassion for women that have these problems with or without breast implants.  Some women who have their implants removed hoping for improvement in their auto-immune disease are unfortunately disappointed.  One third get better, one third stay the same and one third have a worsening of their symptoms.  That is also the natural history of women with auto-immune disease who do not have breast implants.  If you are considering removal of your breast implants, consult with an experienced board certified plastic surgeon so you can make an informed decision based on scientific facts.

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