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 22

Silicone toxicity

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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
4.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Possible complications of breast implants

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In a recent webinar on the health risks associated with breast implants I discussed the most common symptoms associated with women who are having a reaction to the devices. Please see attached video.

Lu-Jean Feng, MD
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Perceived Toxicity

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Hello, I'm very sorry to hear of your sickness, however, we need to clear up some confusion. First, I don't know what tests were performed and how a doctor found silicone and in what part of your "system"? There is no test for this. Frequently on blogs and online communities that gather together women believed to be sickened by their implants, they speak of a blood test for it. It just doesn't exists. There IS a test for SILCON, which is not at all related. (Silicon is environmentally prevalent everywhere, as it is found in dirt and is used in manufacturing. It can impose a threat of lung disease with symptoms of exposure seen with inhalation of silica dust.)

Silicone has been studied by the FDA for over 30 years to establish its safety. In the 90's after years of more than 100 clinic studies, in 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. Additionally, it's important to note, silicone is the most common material used in every kind of medical devices/implants and some medications. These include shunts that go from the brain to the abdomen (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.

Although, it is a point of major contention, it is not an issue of plastic surgeons, including myself, not acknowledging the perception that silicone toxicity from breast implants exists. I am fully aware there are people that are still 100% convinced of silicone toxicity and continue to spread this message to the public despite any substantiated scientific evidence. I know that patients experiencing a host of ambiguous health issues of all sorts are desperate to find a source to blame, feel retribution and find a huge comfort in talking to others who feel the same. Unfortunately, there is a huge difference in a perceived problem and actual evidence of said  issue. We know this, the problem is that there is absolutely no known toxicity from silicone gel breast implants and it would be irresponsible to say otherwise. 

That being said, if you feel you are experiencing any health issues related or not to your implants, you are well within your rights as a patient to have them removed. I see at least 1 to 2 patients a week ready to remove and not replace and I'm happy to do it! My main concern is that they understand the cosmetic outcomes of doing so and that if they are having health issues, I can't make any guarantees removing the implants will heal them. Do some patients report a full "remission" of symptoms after implant removal? You bet! Do all of them? No, they do not. Do the majority come back in 6-12 months and have another augmentation? Yes.

William Aiello, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Breast augmentation

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I have removed multiple sets of implants each month over the past few years.  The improvement in patients health can be dramatic.  

Silicone Poisoning

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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 ?

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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.

What Are Symptoms of Silicone Poisoning from Breast Implant

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There is no medical evidence to suggest that silicone in the blood stream comes from silicone implants. Silicone poisoning is not a medical term. Silicone is found in a number of medical devices.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Silicone Poisoning

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It is extremely unlikely that the silicone found in your system is from old breast implants.  I would explore other possibilities for silicone getting into your system.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Facticious Disorder

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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.

Really no such thing as "poisoning" from silicone

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There is really no such thing as “poisoning” from silicone. Over the years there have been extensive studies and research done by respectable universities that show medical grade silicone is nontoxic. This was following intense debate on the risks associated with silicone and silicone implants, and as a result the topic has been thoroughly examined and the fears proven to be unfounded.

Another thing to remember is that silicone is actually found in the body in small amounts, and it abounds in modern day products such as foods and lotions, just to name a few.

However it is possible that if silicone leaks, the body can react to the silicone and get inflamed in the region where the silicone has leaked. This inflammation is not common but is possible, and seems to be more common with older implants. If there are any questions about silicone leaks in your implants, or you fear the possibility see your doctor.

Scott W. Mosser, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

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.