PSC Roundtable

Can Breast Implants Be Toxic?

Can Breast Implants Be Toxic?

Crystal Hefner, former Playboy model and wife of founder Hugh Hefner, recently announced on social media that she’d had her breast implants removed because she had developed a myriad of symptoms that resembled what she called, “breast implant illness.” These symptoms included fatigue, food intolerance, back pain, brain fog, and recurring infections to name just a few. The question is, can breast implants be toxic and cause systemic disease? Our panel of surgeons weigh in with a resounding, “No.”

by Katherine Stuart

Science Doesn’t Lie

In the early 1990’s, silicone gel implants were taken off the market due to a knee jerk reaction to the fear that certain diseases such as autoimmune and connective tissue disorders might be linked to their use. After significant scientific testing, silicone gel implants were deemed completely safe by the FDA and re-released on the market in 2006. It should be noted that they were never take off the market in the rest of the world.

As Dr. Clifford Clark of Winter Park, FL explains, “the overwhelming scientific data suggests that there is no relation between systemic disease and breast implants.” This is good news for patients. Thanks to the scare, breast implants are now the most studied medical device of all time, so they’ve never been safer. It’s important for patients to look at the big picture when making a decision about whether or not to remove their implants.


Dr. Bruce Van Natta of Indianapolis, IN completely agrees. He too lived through the scare of the 90’s and thinks of the new media storm around Ms. Hefner’s implant removal story as, “groundhog day.” “When people are having a medical condition, they want to find an answer and breast implants have been an easy target,” he explains. Science doesn’t lie, however. All of the data has overwhelming shown that breast implants are safe, which is why the FDA brought them back.

Plastic Surgeons Must Act As Patient Advocates

Dr. William Adams of Dallas, TX fears that stories such as Ms. Hefner’s give patients the wrong message. Apparently, Ms. Hefner was diagnosed with both Lyme’s disease and toxic mold, either of which could have been the root cause of her symptoms, but she laid the focus and blame on her implants. By doing so and sharing her story on social media, she could be mistakenly leading other patients to believe that if they take out their implants then it will miraculously cure whatever is ailing them.

Dr. Clark believes that plastic surgeons must act as, “patient advocates.” “We’re reviewing the science,” he explains. “We want to help patients make great decisions.” If a patient wants to remove her implants, she has every right to do so. Our experts just want them to do it for the right reasons. As Dr. Van Natta explains, “anecdote can be powerful.” Celebrities can tell their story, and it may make them feel better, but it doesn’t necessarily make what they’re saying true. It’s important for patients to know all the facts so that they don’t think that every time they have, “hangnails, hemorrhoids and headaches, it’s because of their breast implants.”

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