What Causes Breast Implant Illness In Women?

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


For the vast majority of women who undergo breast augmentation, having breast implants changes their lives for the better. In most cases, women experience little to no adverse side effects or complications after breast augmentation. However, like any procedure, breast augmentation does have an associated level of risk. Breast implant illness, though rare, is one such risk of breast augmentation. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi and the expert team at SSK Plastic Surgery are committed to providing the most advanced level of service and care available to help Newport Beach breast augmentation patients achieve their ultimate goals without complication. Read on to learn more about breast implant illness, including what it is, what causes it, and how it is treated.

Are breast implants safe?

Both silicone and saline breast implants are FDA-approved devices for breast augmentation and are widely considered exceptionally safe by surgeons and patients alike. However, it is important to understand that – like any surgical procedure – there are certain risks and potential complications associated with breast augmentation. Fortunately, most of these are not dangerous and can be corrected with a subsequent procedure. Possible problems with breast implants may include:

  • Capsular contracture
  • Implant rupture
  • Leaking implant
  • Implant displacement
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Unhappiness with cosmetic results
  • Loss of nipple sensation
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Breast implant illness

What is breast implant illness?

As one of the rarest breast augmentation complications, breast implant illness (BII) is not fully understood and is typically a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that when a patient’s symptoms cannot be explained by any other definitively diagnosed condition, it may be concluded that she is experiencing breast implant illness. Symptoms of breast implant illness can vary from person to person and may range from mild to severe. Common signs of breast implant illness often include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle ache
  • Brain fog
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Skin irritation/rash
  • Dry mouth and dry eyes
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Changes in breasts
  • Swelling, redness, or pain in breasts

What causes breast implant illness?

There is no definitive cause of breast implant illness, and it can happen to virtually anyone, though it is still a relatively rare condition. Some scientists believe that BII may be related to an infection that develops after breast augmentation, while others propose that breast implant illness symptoms could be caused by an inflammatory reaction.

How is breast implant illness treated?

Because the symptoms of BII can be widespread and oftentimes nonspecific, there is no formal course of treatment for breast implant illness. If it is determined that a patient’s symptoms are not being caused by another ailment and may be related to her breast implants, Dr. Kelishadi may recommend breast implant removal. A great deal of women with BII report that their symptoms resolve virtually immediately after breast implant removal.

Can I have my implants replaced after breast implant illness?

Patients who experience symptoms of breast implant illness are typically encouraged to have their implants removed without replacing them. In most cases, a patient who chooses to have new implants placed after breast implant removal for BII will experience the same symptom complex as she did the first time around. Dr. Kelishadi understands that having your breast implants removed may be a discouraging prospect cosmetically and takes great care to help you achieve a feminine, natural, stunning look you can be confident about, even without breast implants. Oftentimes, a breast lift will be performed in conjunction with breast implant removal to create a more youthful, perky look, and some women may choose to have fat transfer to the breast to add volume.

Get relief from your frustrating breast implant illness symptoms in Newport Beach, CA

Although breast implant illness is not fully understood, Dr. Kelishadi takes each patient’s symptoms seriously and is committed to helping every woman get the relief she deserves. If you are experiencing symptoms you think may be associated with breast implant illness in Newport Beach, CA, call the caring team at SSK Plastic Surgery to schedule your one-on-one consultation or virtual appointment with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi today. We look forward to helping you find an answer, a solution, and feel more like yourself again.

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