How Common is Breast Implant Illness?

By: Dr. Sean Kelishadi, M.D. FACS


As one of the most popular surgical procedures in the country, breast augmentation has become a focal point of the plastic surgery industry. With different shapes and sizes of implants to choose from, it's easier than ever to increase breast size or regain breast volume that may have been lost during pregnancy. Fortunately, these implants are incredibly safe and usually last around ten years. However, in some cases, the patient may develop what has come to be known as breast augmentation illness.

At SSK Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach, CA, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi and his staff are experienced in not only inserting the implants but also in diagnosing any complications that may arise from them. While breast implant illness does not have an official diagnosis, there are a wide range of symptoms that could be potential signs of trouble.

What is Breast Implant Illness?

Breast implant illness — or BII — is a term used to describe various symptoms that can occur after having implants embedded into the breasts. These symptoms are not related to any one particular type of implant. In fact, BII can occur in any implant, regardless of shape, type, texture, or filling. Additionally, they can begin to occur at any time. Some patients may start to experience the effects of BII immediately, while others may feel fine until several years after the procedure.

Symptoms usually include:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Breathing problems
  • Dry mouth and/or eyes
  • Rashes and skin problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Gastrointestinal problems

What are the Risks of Breast Implant Illness?

BII is one of several issues — including capsular contracture and malposition — that can affect patients following breast augmentation with implants. While these may sound frightening, these risks occur less than 2% of the time when proper technique and state-of-the-art implants are being used. Dr. Kelishadi makes a point of staying up to date on the latest industry trends in order to ensure you're always in the best hands when you're under his care.

As an example, a rare disease, anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), has been known to be associated with textured implants. Originally, a patient's risk of contracting ALCL using BioCell implants was around 1:2,400. While this is low, we always like to see improvement. Therefore, our current textured implants have a risk of 1:100,000.

How can Breast Implant Illness be Treated?

While no medical device in the world has been studied as much as breast implants, there is still relatively little known about breast implant illness. Researchers have thus far been unable to prove exactly what causes it or how to solve it. In many cases, removing the implants can reduce or even completely alleviate the symptoms. However, this is not always the case. Dr. Kelishadi likes to remind his patients that some of the symptoms associated with BII are also known to coincide with aging or hormonal changes, such as menopause. If this is the case, removing the implant will do nothing to eliminate the symptoms. In order to grant our patients total peace of mind, our practice in Newport Beach, CA offers a guarantee that if we diagnose BII after the procedure, we will offer breast explant surgery at no cost.

If you're concerned about breast implant illness, anaplastic large cell lymphoma, capsular contracture, or any other breast-implant-related issue, please feel free to contact SSK Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach, CA to schedule an appointment with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi.

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