Breast Implant Illness

What is BII? 

It’s as varied as vertigo, brain fog, joint pain and general malaise: Breast Implant Illness (BII) refers to a pattern of symptoms experienced by women who have breast implants. Since 2018, more than 50,000 women have reported a wide range of BII side effects. Though BII is not a medical diagnosis and its existence is rejected by many plastic surgeons, women anecdotally note dramatic improvements in overall health after undergoing breast explant surgery.


We know our bodies, ladies. Just because the medical community cannot yet come to a  consensus regarding BII, that does not mean it doesn’t exist. The heal is real - and all it often takes to find relief is the removal of foreign implants from the body.


The amount of women at risk is staggering. Did you know that more than 400,000 undergo breast implant surgery each year? This surgery has dramatically increased over the last 20 years; approximately 75 percent of these surgeries are breast augmentation, and 25 percent involve reconstruction after mastectomy. This increase also reflects women replacing old implants due to breakage and more.

Common Symptoms 

Anxiety Chronic inflammation Cysts in vaginal wall
Apnea pain Body itch
Back/ shoulder/breast pain Dry, burning eyes taking a full breath
Depression Chronic neck & shoulder Arm pain/weakness
Skin issues Thyroid Issues joints & wrists
kidney issues Shortness of breath Tiredness



The most common complications with breast implants (infographic?):

  • Breast Pain & Capsular Contracture
    • Implants are “foreign bodies.”
    • The human body reacts to foreign bodies by forming a capsule of scar tissue around implants.
    • When this capsule hardens, it is called capsular contracture.
    • Capsular contracture can cause mild to severe discomfort and chronic pain.
  • Rupture
    • All implants break eventually.
    • When silicone implants break, there are often few symptoms. Silicone will ‘silently’ migrate to other parts of the body.
    • Due to lack of symptoms, estimated rupture rates often depend on MRI information.
  • Leakage
    • Studies have shown silicone has leaked into the scar capsules surrounding the implants (even for those that had not ruptured).
    • Silicone has been known to migrate to lymph nodes, which could then migrate to other organs.
    • A lymph node affected by silicone can be removed - but an organ affected by silicone cannot.
  • Mammography
    • Breast implants can interfere with the detection of breast cancer, as they may obscure the mammography image of a tumor.
    • Despite special techniques developed to minimize implant interference, research indicates that 55% of tumors may still be obscured compared to the 33% obscured in women without implants.
  • Breastfeeding
    • Women who have undergone any form of breast surgery are three times more likely to experience inadequate milk supply.
    • There is concern surrounding the possibility for chemicals from implants to be passed along to infants through breastfeeding, but the evidence is conflicting and the research is insufficient to make a determination at this time. 



We can blame implants for breast implant associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). A type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it wreaks havoc on the immune system, affects the entire body and can even lead to death. While some refer to BIA-ALCL as breast cancer because it begins in the breast region, that is not correct.


Though textured implants have been found to lead to more cases of BIA-ALCL, the Federal Drug Administration recommends that every woman considering breast implants know of the cancer risk. Implant company Allergan recalled their textured implants because the danger was so great. Tissue expanders with texture have also been retired.


For those experiencing symptoms - breast swelling and pain - it’s imperative to contact a medical provider. Diagnosis is achieved through examination of the breast and the fluid surrounding the implant.


Learn more about this cancer here.