I just had breast augmentation four weeks ago. I am 37, and after nursing four babies I really wanted some volume back. After some research online yesterday, I came across SO much information about the link between silcone and autoimmune disorders. I am freaking out! I was not aware of this at all before my surgery, had I known I would not have done it. Is there any danger in having them removed this close to original surgery?
Is it Dangerous For Breast Implants to be Removed in First 6 Weeks After Implanting?
Doctor Answers 4
NO Definitive Link between Silicone Implants and Autoimmune Disorders
The short answer is yes, you can have your breast implants removed at any time -
The long answer is the I recommend you do NOT have your implants removed if your primary purpose is that you feel your implants are in some way toxic to you or you will be at an unusually high risk to develop a medical illness because of them. There is no compelling scientific studies I am aware of that would support this action.
I think it best to answer this question in two ways:
First, to address the perceived silicone toxicity by the public/patients which has not been substantiated by scientific studies and would be rare if it occurred at all.
Secondly, to address if they have ever been proven to be toxic.
The first question is easy to answer: there is no known toxicity from silicone gel breast implants. It has been studied by the FDA for more than three decades to establish its safety. Silicone is the most common material used in medical devices/implants. Examples include shunts that go from the brain to the abdomen (for hydrocephalus) which are left in for a lifetime, artificial finger joints, syringes, IVs, catheters (including ones that go next to the heart), surrounding pacemakers, and even oral anti-gas tablets.
The one possible exception may by the PIP implant made in France (generally not available in the USA). Most of the concerns about the PIP implant were about the use of non-medical silicone and manufacturing problems, and do not relate to implants used in the United States by board-certified plastic surgeons. This is not to say that breast implants, like any implant, can have problems; they may have to be removed and 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.
To answer the perceived toxicity of Silicone by the general public—this is quite a different matter.
Breast implants have been around since the 1960s. About 15 years ago Connie Chung ran an exposé, 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 aren’t related to cancer, lupus, scleroderma, other connective tissue diseases, or the host of other problems they were accused of causing.
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 is part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation’s most prestigious scientific organization.
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 reintroduction of silicone implants years ago and their approval by the FDA. Interestingly enough, most of the rest of the world reintroduced them many years prior to the United States.
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.
—Larry S. Nichter, MD FACS
Have a question? Ask a doctor
Is it OK to remove breast implants at 6 weeks?
Although it is "safe" to remove your implants at just 6 weeks post-operatively, I would highly recommend that you weigh this decision carefully. It is disappointing that you just learned of the accusations that have been aimed at silicone gel implants, you should learn everything about the issue before making a decision. Your plastic surgeon should be the ultimate resource about this subject and can guide you to legitimate places to read more about the subject. Take a deep breath and make a good decision. I wish you well.
Implants and removal
If you need to have implants removed at 6 weeks then it can be done. However, it is difficult to predict how the tissues will respond to the removal in terms of laxity.
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Thank you for the question.
I would suggest that you slow down and not make any decisions based on information you come across online. Although there is no physical “danger” in having them removed, you may end up being disappointed with the decision made based on an emotional reaction.
I would suggest that you review the FDA website and good studies that have failed to show a causative association between silicone gel breast implants and autoimmune disorders.
Also, make sure you use your plastic surgeon as a resource for information based on good studies.
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.