Silicone Breast Implants on Women with Autoimmune Disorders?

Silicone breast implants do not cause a woman to be more likely to develop an autoimmune disease any more than a woman without implants. However, why does the Mentor say on their website, "Precautions: Safety and effectiveness have not been established in patients with the following: autoimmune diseases (for example, lupus and scleroderma)". So, can silicone implants make an existing autoimmune disease worse? I have Hashimoto's which shows as hypothyroidism. Does that mean I should not get breast implants? I can't find any article on the web at all addressing women getting silicone implants who already have an autoimmune disease. Thanks!

Doctor Answers (5)

Silicone Implants and Autoimmune Disorders

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Are Silicone Implants Safe in patients with autoimmune disorders?.I think that Mentor's website is simply being cautious in this litigious day and age. What I can do is tell you that studies have not linked autoimmune disorders to silicone breast implants.

Silicone implants have been shown to be not related to autoimmune disorders. But your question gets to the heart of the matter, Are silicone implants safe?


I think you have to answer this question in two ways -First,  to address the perceived silicone safety by the public/patients which has not been substantiated by scientific studies and would be rare if any at all. Secondly you have to address if they have ever been proven to be not safe. The first question is most easy to answer. Breast Implants are safe. There is no know toxicity from silicone gel breast implants.  It has been studied by the FDA for more than 3 decades to establish its safety. Silicone is the most common material used in medical devices/implants  such as shunts that go from the brain to the abdomen for hydrocephalus and left in a life time, artificial finger joints,syringes, IV's catheters including ones that go next to the heart, surrounding pacemakers and other purposes such as in anti-gas tablets people swallow. The one possible exception may by the PIP implant made in France and generally not available in the USA - and most of the concerns are around use of non-medical silicone, manufacturing problems and do not relate to implants used in the USA by board certified plastic surgeons. This is not to say that breast implants like any implant can have problems and may have to be removed and they are not meant to last a life time. Common reasons for replacement include: capsular contracture, rupture, infection, change in breast size, and pain, BUT NOT FOR Toxicity or Safety concerns and that would include the presence of Autoimmune disorders unless it was recommended by your rheumatologist/endocrinologist who occasionally recommend implant removal without scientific justification.


To answer the perceived safety and autoimmune concerns and  issues of Silicone by the general public; this is quite a different matter. Breast  implants have been around since the 1960’s. About 15 years ago Connie Chung ran an expose,"Face to Face with Connie Chung."  claiming silicone implants were responsible for different health problems.  This led to lawsuits a huge windfall for lawyers and the subsequent ban on silicone implants for first time breast augmentation patients went into effect.They were always available for breast reconstruction (e.g. after mastectomy)and replacement of existing silicone breasts. Also please note that saline implants are still covered by a silicone envelope.   Soon after, a ban on silicone implant use became worldwide.  This lasted for years until more than 100 clinical studies showed that breast implants don’t cause cancer, lupus, scleroderma, Hashimoto's or other connective tissue diseases,or a host of other problems.June 1999. The Institute of Medicine released a 400-page report prepared by an independent committee of 13 scientists. They concluded that although silicone breast implants may be responsible for localized problems such as hardening or scarring of breast tissue, implants do not cause any major diseases such as depression,chronic fatigue syndrome,  lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, etc.. The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences is the nation's most prestigious scientific organization.  In June 1999, The Institute of Medicine released a 400-page report prepared by an independent committee of 13 scientists. They concluded that although silicone breast implants  although may be responsible for localized problems such as hardening or scarring of breast tissue, they do not cause any major diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Eventually, a federal judge dismissed/rejected the lawsuits, declaring them junk science and ended for the most part the barrage of lawsuits  This led to the present re-introduction of silicone implants years ago and their approval by the FDA.  Interestingly enough, most of the rest of the world re-introduced them many years prior to the USA doing so.


I happened to be in private practice in Orange County, California during this time of confusion by the public and media.. My office was deluged with patients, mostly new ones having had surgery elsewhere, believing they were being poisoned by their breast implants.Most of my consults lasted about an hour and were spent trying to convince patients that they did NOT need surgery. In fact I told them that they would not even have to pay for the consultation if they decided to not have surgery.Most of the patients had no problems but were simply gripped with general panic,mass hysteria and fear from all the media hype and false information. Despite my strong advice to not remove their implants, many insisted upon that action. As a footnote -The vast majority of these patients that I removed implants eventually returned to my office for silicone gel replacement.


Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

VIDEO (click here for link) Breast Implants on Someone with Pigeon Chest?

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The data available indicate that the silicone implants should not aggravate your condiiton. However, if you find this hard to believe or have lingering questions or anxiety, I would recommend that you defer the surgeical procedure.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Automimmune disease and implants

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The recent ban of silicone implants from 1992 to about 2007 was because of concern of the potential risk of autoimmune disorders and implants. This has not been supported in the literature and the ban was lifted.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

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Silicone Breast Implants and Autoimmune Diseases

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The big concern of the role of silicone and autoimmune diseases is really one of the concerns that generated the "moratorium" on breast implants in the United States for almost 13 years. The studies to date have not shown any increased risks in patients with autoimmune diseases and hundreds of thousands of women are now collectively in these studies. Unfortunately, the legal climate in the United States makes us put the usual disclaimer: Drive at your own risk! In almost thirty years of practice I have yet to see a patient where an autoimmune response was directly correlated with the silicone implants.

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Silicone gel implants and autoimmune disorders

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Statistics are one your side. There does not appear to be any difference in the incidence of autoimmune disorders in women with silicone gel implants and those without implants. That having been said, rhuemtologist colleagues of mine feel that autoimmune disorders may have a variety of triggers (pesticides, etc.) so, in theory, silicone gel implants could trigger a response in the rare case which would not show up statistically. In eighteen years of private practice, I have yet to come across a woman whose preexisting autoimmune disorder got worse after gel implants. And even if it did, it would be tough to lay the blame on the implants because the causes can be multi-factorial. I know you are looking for absolutes but there are none here. Odds are if you got gel implants you would do well.

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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.