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Complications Linked to Breast Implants

Complications Linked to Breast ImplantsWomen should be aware of potential complications associated with silicone breast implants.

Around the world, millions of women have received silicone breast implants. Filled with either a saline solution or a silicone gel, implants are used to surgically reconstruct the breasts after mastectomy or increase breast size during cosmetic procedures.

At a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel last month, clinicians, researchers, and patients discussed two issues that are thought to be implant-related.

One concern is breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. BIA-ALCL is thought to be more common in women who receive textured implants. For some, the condition gets better when the implants are removed. However, seventeen women have died from it, according to the New York Times.

Another concern is breast implant illness (BII), which has been more difficult to define. Women with BII have reported pain, fatigue, and memory impairment. But it is unclear how many women have been affected. MedPage Today reports an estimated range of 1% to 30%. As with BIA-ALCL, the condition may improve with implant removal.

Some patients at the panel said they had not been thoroughly advised of the risks of implants. Experts called for more research.

It’s important to note that cause-and-effect relationships between breast implants and these illnesses have not been proven. However, the associations are worth noting.

Women are encouraged to discuss any breast implant concerns with their doctor or plastic surgeon.


“Women With Breast Implants Warned About Rare Lymphoma”

(April 2, 2018)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

“Medical Device Reports of Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma”

(Page last updated: March 22, 2019)

MedPage Today

Walker, Molly

“FDA Panel: Breast Implant Risk Info Needs Improvement”

(March 27, 2019)

New York Times

Grady, Denise and Roni Caryn Rabin

“Reports of Breast Implant Illnesses Prompt Federal Review”

(March 19, 2019)

Grady, Denise and Roni Caryn Rabin

“Women at Breast Implant Hearing Call for Disclosure of Safety Risks”

(March 25, 2019)

Brar, Faith

“Is Breast Implant Illness Real? Everything You Need to Know About the Controversial Condition”

(February 7, 2019)