What Are The Signs Of Breast Implant Illness?

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


If you are considering breast augmentation – or even if you already have breast implants – you may have concerns about breast implant safety. For the vast majority of women who undergo breast augmentation, their breast implants never pose a health risk. Many patients may want or need their implants replaced or removed at some point in their lives, but this is often due to a personal change in preference or a harmless cosmetic complication. While breast implants are FDA approved and widely considered to be perfectly safe, a very small percentage of patients may experience symptoms consistent with breast implant illness.

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi and the compassionate team at SSK Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach, CA understand the frustrating, confusing, and sometimes painful nature of breast implant illness and are dedicated to helping women achieve long-lasting symptom relief and regain control of their lives with breast implant removal and other treatment options. Learn more about breast implant illness here, including what signs or symptoms may mean it’s time to seek the advice of a plastic surgeon.

Are breast implants safe?

Both silicone and saline breast implants are approved by the FDA for use in breast augmentation procedures and are widely considered safe by plastic surgeons and patients. In fact, the risk of breast implant complications is extremely low, though some malfunctions may occur. These can be due to surgeon error, inappropriate implant size, improper aftercare, trauma, and other factors. Fortunately, most issues are primarily cosmetic and can be easily corrected with revision, replacement, or explant procedures and do not pose a serious health risk to the patient. Possible breast implant complications include:

  • Implant rupture
  • Implant leak
  • Capsular contracture
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Bottoming out
  • Breast implant displacement
  • Temporary loss of sensation or nipple sensitivity
  • Breast implant illness

In recent years, a specific type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – BIA-ALCL – has been linked to certain textured implants. This is not a form of breast cancer, and it is highly treatable and often curable once the implant has been removed.

What is breast implant illness?

Breast implant illness is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it is a condition that is characterized by a certain set of symptoms that can’t be definitively attributed to any other issue. When a patient suspects that certain physical and/or psychological symptoms may be related to their breast implants, their surgeon will perform a variety of tests to rule out alternative explanations for the symptoms before arriving at a conclusion of breast implant illness.

What are the symptoms of breast implant illness?

Breast implant illness symptoms can often mimic the symptoms of other conditions or illnesses, making it difficult to know with certainty whether or not they are actually being caused by the breast implants. Furthermore, the symptoms can be vague and may come and go over time. Not all patients will experience the same set of symptoms, and some women may only have mild signs of breast implant illness, while others describe debilitating symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms of breast implant illness include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Brain fog or mental confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Skin irritation
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Can breast implant illness be cured?

In many cases, the symptoms of breast implant illness disappear completely – and almost immediately – when the breast implants, capsule, and scar tissue are removed. However, since there is no way to definitively link the symptoms to the breast implants, there is no guarantee that implant removal will provide relief. Dr. Kelishadi will thoroughly evaluate your symptoms, take a detailed health history, and rule out other conditions before determining whether or not explant surgery may be likely to help you.

Can I get new implants after breast implant illness?

In the majority of cases, patients who have their implants removed due to breast implant illness symptoms are strongly discouraged from having new implants placed, as there is a relatively good chance they make experience the same set of symptoms again. If you are concerned about how your breasts will appear after implant removal, talk to Dr. Kelishadi to find out what options may be able to restore a more feminine, attractive contour. These may include breast lift, fat transfer to the breast, and others.

Find out whether you may be suffering from the symptoms of breast implant illness in Newport Beach, CA

Without a doubt, the symptoms of breast implant illness can wreak havoc on a woman’s life and leave her feeling exhausted and hopeless. Don’t spend another day struggling with the frustration of breast implant illness. Call the caring team at SSK Plastic Surgery today to schedule your private in-office visit or virtual consultation with award-winning board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi, and take the first step toward feeling like yourself again!

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