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Learn The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Implant Illness

By: Dr. Christopher Khorsandi


For the vast majority of women who undergo breast augmentation, their breast implants never cause problems. In fact, breast augmentation is widely considered to be an extremely safe, low-risk procedure. However, for a few patients, complications or long-term symptoms can occur that may be associated with their implants. The compassionate team at VIP Plastic Surgery in Las Vegas, NV, led by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Christopher Khorsandi, takes breast implant illness seriously and understands the toll it can take on a woman’s life, comfort, and overall well-being. If you are suffering from frustrating, uncomfortable, or confusing symptoms that you think may be associated with your breast implants, learn more here, including what treatment options you may have.

Are breast implants safe?

Both saline and silicone breast implants are FDA approved and considered safe. As with any surgical procedure, breast augmentation has some associated risks, but complications – which are rare – are generally mild, and correctable. Some issues may occur during or right after surgery, while others may appear at a later time. Possible complications of breast augmentation with implants include:

  • Capsular contracture
  • Implant rupture
  • Implant displacement
  • Implant malfunction
  • Surgical/anesthesia complication
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Loss of nipple sensation
  • Breast implant-associated illness

What is breast implant illness?

In addition to mechanical complications, such as capsular contracture, another category of implant-related conditions has been identified in recent years. Breast implant illness refers to a set of signs and symptoms that a woman experiences that can’t be attributed to any other condition and are thought to be associated with her breast implants. The symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to severely disruptive, both physically and psychologically. Breast implant illness has been noted in women with both types of breast implants – silicone gel and saline.

How is breast implant illness diagnosed?

There is no formal diagnosis for breast implant illness. Instead, it is usually a diagnosis of exclusion when no other reason for the patient’s symptoms can be identified. A doctor may run certain tests to rule out other causes and conditions before concluding that the patient’s symptoms may be associated with her breast implants. However, there is no definitive way to tell with certainty that the implants are indeed causing the symptoms, even if the implants are removed.

What are the symptoms of breast implant illness?

Breast implant illness can present in varying degrees with different symptoms from patient to patient, both physical and psychological in nature. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of breast implant illness include:

  • Recurrent headaches
  • Muscle soreness
  • Joint pain
  • Dry mouth and dry eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Skin irritation or rash
  • Hair loss or thinning hair
  • Interrupted sleep or insomnia
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Brain fog or confusion
  • Memory loss

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and think they may be related to your breast implants, contact your surgeon to discuss alternate diagnoses, treatment options, and more.

Do breast implants cause breast cancer?

Both silicone and saline breast implants are FDA approved as being safe for use in breast augmentation, and it is widely accepted that they do not pose any long-term health risks to the patient. In recent years, however, a specific form of lymphoma, BIA-ALCL, has been identified in some patients and is thought to be associated with textured breast implants. This is not breast cancer, but rather a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a cancer of the immune system. Not all patients with textured implants will develop BIA-ALCL, but many women are choosing to have their textured silicone or saline implants replaced with smooth implants anyway. Fortunately, if BIA-ALCL is diagnosed, it can nearly always be treated and cured once the implant and capsule have been removed.

How is breast implant illness treated?

The most effective way to relieve the symptoms of breast implant illness is to have breast implants removed completely. There are several surgical methods used during explant surgery, each of which is characterized by how the capsule is removed. For example, en bloc capsulectomy is a technique in which the capsule and implant are removed together. During your Las Vegas breast implant removal consultation, Dr. Khorsandi will discuss your symptoms, evaluate your anatomy, and determine which explant approach may be most appropriate for you.

Patients who suspect breast implant illness should keep in mind that there is no guarantee that removing the implants will cure their condition. However, a lot of patients experience full symptom relief once the implants have been removed.

Can I get new implants after implant removal for breast implant illness?

It is generally recommended that patients do not have new implants placed after surgery for breast implant illness, as they may be naturally predisposed to developing the same symptoms all over again. Oftentimes, Dr. Khorsandi will recommend a breast lift, skin tightening, or other treatment to help restore more natural and appealing breast shape and position after explant surgery.

Get relief from breast implant illness in Las Vegas, NV

If you are suffering from painful and frustrating symptoms without relief or explanation, it may be time to seek evaluation for breast implant illness. Call the caring team at VIP Plastic Surgery in Las Vegas to schedule your private in-office appointment or virtual consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Christopher Khorsandi, who deeply understands the complex nature of breast implant illness. We look forward to helping you understand your symptoms and explore your options for relief so that you can finally live your life fully once again.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.