Silicone Gel Breast Implant Side Effects Linked to Variety of Complications in New Study

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

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New research suggests that side effects of silicone gel breast implants may cause women to experience a variety of health problems, including melanoma, arthritis and other complications. 

In a study published late last week in the medical journal Annals of Surgery, researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center warn that silicone breast implants appear to be linked to an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, stillbirth and skin cancer.

Researchers looked at data on nearly 100,000 patients, 54% of whom received silicone gel implants. The multicentered cohort study looked at implants from two manufacturers, Allergan and Mentor.

According to the findings, silicone gel breast implants were linked to an eight-fold increased risk of Sjogren syndrome, a seven-fold increased risk of scleroderma, nearly six times the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, more than four times the risk of stillbirth, and more than triple the risk of melanoma.

“This is the largest study of breast implant outcomes,” the researchers concluded. “Silicone implants are associated with an increased risk of certain rare harms; associations need to be further analyzed with patient-level data to provide conclusive evidence. Long-term safety and implant-related outcomes should inform patient and surgeon decision-making when selecting implants.”

Breast Implant Concerns

The study comes amid increasing concerns about problems with silicone breast implants reported by women nationwide.

Women experiencing a variety of complications often referred to as “breast implant illness”, describe chronic side effects, such as fatigue, cognitive problems, muscle and joint pain, hair loss, infections, gastrointestinal problems, rashes and thyroid issues. In many cases, the problems have led women to have their breast implants removed, and concerns about the risk have become a factor many are questioning when deciding whether to undergo breast enhancement or reconstruction surgery.

While the FDA and the medical community have acknowledged the risk of breast implant ruptures and leaks, and, more recently, a form of lymphoma found to develop in the tissue surrounding breast implants, the larger breast implant syndrome risk has not yet been recognized.

Most doctors still do not review the potential risk of breast implant health side effects with patients, since it is not a recognized medical condition and there have been no studies to establish that it exists. However, science often takes time to catch up with the fast pace of emerging health risks that may appear on the internet and social media.

Over the last year or two the FDA’s focus regarding breast implants that may be linked to a rare form of cancer.

Last year, the FDA issued warnings about breast implant lymphoma rates, long after concerns about the risks first emerged. A number of subsequent studies have confirmed that the cancer risk is real, and suggest that it may be linked specifically to the use of certain textured breast implants with larger surface areas.

In June 2017, a study published in the medical journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggested that certain textured breast implants may increase the risk of anaplastic large cell lymphoma anywhere from 10 to 14 times, when compared to smooth breast implants.

In October 2017, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Surgerywarned that many breast implant cancer cases worldwide have likely not been reported, and noted that many doctors continue to be unaware of the BIA-ALCL risk.

As awareness of the problem increases, many experts have warned that the number of diagnosed breast implant ALCL cancer cases is likely to increase. As a result of manufacturers’ failure to adequately research the risks associated with their devices, a number of women are now pursuing potential breast implant cancer lawsuits, and it is possible that breast implant illness claims may also be pursued if independent scientific evidence emerges to support the claims.

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  1. Amy Reply

    I had Silicone implants on July 8, 2015… by Dr. Renato Calabria in Beverly Hills CA. I asked for 400 cc’s and he put 600 cc’s in. I asked why he would do that and he replied your BF wanted that. Of course I had to have them redone less than 2 yrs later and new physician found the left one had burst and he had to scoop a lot of silicone out of the breast pocket. about 6 months later I developed basal cell (infiltrative) cancer on my face which required surgery and I now have severe gastrointestinal issues including H pylori and a Hiatal Hernia. Interestingly looking at the photos I took after the surgery there was a puncture wound where the hiatal hernia is. (He did lipo on me as well. 8 ½ hours under General Anesthesia. I have also developed arthritis in most joints.

  2. Kimberly Reply

    Positive for scleroderma, hashimotos, reynauds, connective tissue disease, interstitial lung disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Started having symptoms within a few months of implant in February 2013 post double mastectomy. Had to quit working in February 2017 due to declining health, pursuing social security for 18 months now. Explanting in March of 2019.

  3. Amy Reply

    I had Allergan Natrelle silicone implants put in in 2010- at the advice of the PS that said they were safe and inert and “more natural” than saline.

    From the beginning, I had issues with the left side, and developed capsular contracture. He prescribed Singular and it helped slightly, but the left was always harder and sat higher. I discovered an extracapsular rupture in the left implant earlier this year and had the implants removed and replaced in April…or so I thought. I still experienced pain after the surgery where the silicone rupture was, and then my health started to deteriorate rapidly. Trouble breathing, swallowing, extreme fatigue, Iritis, peripheral neuropathies, dry mouth and eyes…the list goes on. I ended up in the ER three separate times because of my symptoms, and had always been healthy prior. After seeking opinions from multiple specialists and getting numerous tests done, I saw a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with undifferentiated connective tissue disease and am currently being worked up for Sjogrens. I then saw an integrative physician last month, who sent me for explant surgery 2 days later, as she contributed my issues to the silicone exposure . The new surgeon discovered silicone debris from the previous surgery, as well as inflamed tissue and took 4 hours to get everything cleaned out. I continue to struggle however have started immunosuppressive therapy and am hopeful that this will help get my immune system back on track and enable me to function as I did previously (single working mom of three getting MBA at night).

    I never would have risked my health had I known this could happen. There needs to be more transparency about the toxic effect silicone can cause and the potential risks associated with it.

  4. Jen Reply

    I think I have symptoms of implant disease. I am waiting to have a mammogram because I am afraid I have a left breast rupture. I wish I had money to get them removed.

  5. Heather Reply

    Had Sientra Gel implants put in by recommendation of PS 2009. Was diagnosed with aggressive RA June 3rd 2020. Humira and Methotrexate did not work. My markers in my labs are 400% normal range. The RA continues to be more aggressive even while being treated. Never had any symptoms till Nov 2019. Had MRI last Monday and left implant has small rupture. How are they allowed to have these on the market? No family history of RA.

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