What Are Symptoms of Silicone Poisoning from Breast Implants?

I got silicone breast implants over a decade ago, and I have recently become very sick.  The only doctor I've seen so far took a blood sample and found silicone in my system.  Could it be that I have silicone poisoning from my breast implants?  What are the symptoms?

Doctor Answers 19

Silicone toxicity

Women ill from silicone defective implants have three types of toxicity.  Silicone causes a autoimmune reaction in patients with certain HLA types (this is reported in the peer reviewed literature in plastic surgery, specifically HLA DR 53 and B 27) and may be a problem in other patients, chemical toxicity occurs from chemicals from the defective implants, such as Raynaud's syndrome depleting arginine and thereby causing a decrease in nitric oxide, and biotoxicity from mold and yeast due to an immune deficiency involving T cells.  I know this because I am a plastic surgeon who got silicone toxicity due to a leaking left silicone breast implant and I actually reviewed the literature (the FDA partially paid for a study that was published in The Journal of Rhematology in 2001 showing that patients with ruptured silicone implants had a high rate of fibromyalgia).  To understand how to treat this illness, I was one of the founding diplomats of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine as only functional medicine is used for detoxification and wrote a book on the subject called The Naked Truth About Breast Implants.  Since the book came out, there are other clinical studies coming out of Europe that describe the disease that I report, but to my knowledge, no other clinic has a comprehensive treatment program for the immune and endocrine problems as well as treatment of coinfections (mycoplasma and other intracellular infections are common) as well as the important detoxification protocols.  Many patients with defective silicone implants (leakage as shown on weight analysis post explant) have MTHFR and other genetic defects of the detoxification (methylation) pathways.  As seen from this blog, most plastic surgeons are unaware of this information and do not have any experience in the treatment of defective implants.  Also, with saline implants, many patients have a HLA type that does not detox biotoxins, so they get a form of sick building syndrome, from defective saline implants, that require total capsulectomy, antifungals, and biotoxin detox in order to regain their health.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

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Silicone Poisoning

The use of liquid silicone implants was the source of tremendous controversy approximately fifteen years ago. This subject has been studied extensively and the FDA has ruled that silicone breast implants are safe for breast augmentation. Silicone poisoning as a distinct entity has not been described. It’s also important to know that silicone is found everywhere in our environment. It’s even found in tooth paste. 

Do Silicone Implants cause poisoning ?

Despite three decades of safety testing and monitoring of silicone breast implants, there is still a public perception that silicone breast implants are more toxic or dangerous than saline implants. The truth is that there has no known toxicity from silicone gel breast implants. In fact, silicone is one of the most common materials used in medical devices and implants.  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.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Facticious Disorder

To date, there is no proof of anything called silicone poisoning from breast implants. If silicone was found in your blood, it got there through another route. Older implants should be changed though since they have something called a "bleed" which is an oily fluid that comes out of them. The newer implants do not have this.

Jacob Freiman, MD, FACS
Miami Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 147 reviews

Are your implants silicone gel?


Do you know if your implants are silicone gel filled? Gel filled implants were not available in the U.S. for first time breast augmentation patients ten years ago. They were re-approved for this use by the FDA in 2006 after 14 years of research confirming that essentially there is no such thing as silicone poisoning and no cause and effect between silicone gel implants and disease. Pursue the issue further with your doctor, who may refer you on to a rheumatologist for further work up. Good luck!

Silicone really does not make people sick.

To pfeffer10,

Hi. I am so sorry that you are not well. All I can do is reassure you that it is not your implants that are making you sick. Silicone is everywhere (including maybe a little bit in your blood) and it is harmless.

I know the research on silicone implants really well. They don't cause ANY illness. All the bad publicity from years ago was "junk science" paid for by lawyers who made many millions of dollars by scaring women and driving Dow Corning (which manufactured silicone) bankrupt.

You should have an MRI of your breasts to make sure that one of your implants is not leaking. But even if an implant is leaking, it is just a LOCAL problem. It is not going to give you any symptoms.

So please go to a good internist to find out what's really wrong with you.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Silicone breast implants do not cause silicone poisoning

Silicone breast implants do not cause silicone "poisoning". Silicone in various forms are ubiquitous, being present in foods, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, etc. and is found in trace amounts in our bodies.

You should, however, always be vigilant about the possibility of rupture or leakage of your implants implanted for more than 10 years even though this by itself may not and usually does not cause systemic illnesses.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

No such thing as "silicone poisoning"

First, a couple of things you need to know: studies have conclusively shown that medical grade silicone is nontoxic. This was a topic of intense interest about 15 years ago and there is probably no medical device that has been studied more thoroughly as a result.

Additionally, everyone in a modern society has silicone in their system, as it is ubiquitous in our environment in a number of consumer products. If you have ever had an IV, you have silicone from the lubricant on the needle. A number of blood tests were promoted purporting to be able to diagnose "silicone poisoning" and they have all been proven worthless.

If you have seen only one doctor and he/she is suggesting silicone poisoning as a reasonable explanation for your illness, you really need another opinion.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Studies do not show that silicone "poisoning" exists.

If your implants are silicone from about 20 years ago, it is likely that they should be removed and either replaced with newer implants or left out. No studies have shown that there is a condition of "silicone poisoning". Silicone is a naturally existing substance that is non reactive.

Silicone is present in the syringe and needle that drew your blood as well as in orange juice and many other substance and foods you ingest. I would suggest getting a work up from a good Internal Medicne doctor to evaluate your problems.

William B. Rosenblatt, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Very Unlikely related to your implants

Hi there,

There are a few things you should understand, and that I think will help you feel better that your implants are not the cause of your illness. Even when your implants were new, your system was exposed to a small amount of silicone on the surface of the implants. As they aged, this "gel bleed" more than likely increased over time. In fact, with your implants being almost 20 years old, it is very likely that you have had exposure for some time; meaning that if you were to react to it in some way, this should have reasonably occurred many years before now.

As mentioned by my colleague, a great many studies have now been done around the world, on thousands of women, showing no link between silicone implants and any systemic illness. Silicone is inert; your body does not react to it. So, there are no symptoms or silicone illness.

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.