Breast implant illness (BII) is a collection of symptoms reported by some patients which they attribute to breast implants. These symptoms may include joint and muscle pain or weakness, memory and concentration problems, chronic pain, depression, fatigue, chronic flu-like symptoms, migraines or rashes and skin problems.

No causal link between BII and breast implants has been identified. Some potential etiologies that have been hypothesized to be associated with BII include heavy metals, microbes, microbial toxins, cytokines, alternate causation (vitamin D deficiency, thy­roid issues, heavy metals from previous tattoos or diet, and preexisting anxiety or depression or connective tissue disease). Although women who develop these symptoms can’t be certain that their symptoms were caused by breast implants, several studies indicate that some women see most of their symptoms improve partially or completely after having their implants and capsules (scars around implants) removed.

Studies look at patient reported symptoms and biospecimens did not find a link between BII and implants. Specifically, a recent series study compares breast implant women with symptoms to those with implants and no symptoms and women who have no implants but undergo breast lift showed that

  • Patients who self-report BII show improvement in symptoms after removal regardless of the type of capsulectomy (scar surrounds implants) performed.
  • There is not a significant risk of heavy metal exposure from breast implants, either saline or silicone.
  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  2. Glicksman C, McGuire P, Kadin M, et al. Part 1: Impact of capsulectomy type on post-explantation systemic symptom improvement: Findings from the ASERF systemic symptoms in women-biospecimen analysis study. Aesth Surg J.2021 Dec.
  3. Wixtrom R, Glicksman C, Kadin M, Lawrence M, Haws M, Ferenz S, Sung J, McGuire P. Heavy Metals in Breast Implant Capsules and Breast Tissue: Findings from the Systemic Symptoms in Women-Biospecimen Analysis Study: Part 2. Aesthet Surg J. 2022 Apr 26:sjac106. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjac106. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35474526.


Patients with these symptoms are recommended to discuss with their surgeons about a full work up and the need for implant removal.

If you have any questions, the doctors at Napa Solano Plastic Surgery are happy to set up a consult with you to discuss your options, concerns and questions.