What is known about silicone breast implants is that fibrous capsule contracture occurs in about 70% of cases two to four years after implantation. The rate of complications - which include breast pain, contracture, rupture, infection, implant migration requiring surgery - approaches 50% at 10 years. In a Mayo Clinic study, there was a 30% failure rate at 7.8 years. Rheumatologists have described a veritable array of symptoms in more than 1,000 patients with silicone breast implants.
The syndrome includes the symptoms of arthralgia, myalgia, sicca complex, paresthesia, balance disturbance, night sweats, rashes, memory difficulty and fatigue. Autoantibodies to collagen and extracellular matrix proteins and abnormalities of cell-mediated immunity have been found in women with silicone implants and not in controls. There does not appear to be a serologic marker consistently associated with rheumatic disease in these patients. These findings suggest that silicone implants may cause immune dysfunction and rheumatic disease in some patients, but it is very difficult to prove
In more than 80% of over 1,000 females with breast implants who were referred to neurologists at Baylor College of Medicine, mild to severe short-term memory loss was discovered. Many of the individuals experienced a 70% recovery when the implants and any loose silicone surrounding them was removed. SPECT testing of 15 of the women found diminished blood flow to the temporal lobe. When the SPECT testing was done after the silicone was removed there was increased blood flow to the temporal lobes. A full 70% of these thousand women had Sjogren's syndrome; 58% had Raynaud's phenomenon and 60% had dermatitis.
Plastic surgeon and president of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery said the patients in this study are not representative of all silicone breast implant patients and that this was a highly biased and selected group of women being fewer than a thousand out of the million U.S. women who have had breast implants. Learn about the statistics of breast augmentation in the US.
A study was conducted of 43 individuals with signs and symptoms of silicone breast implant syndrome who removed their implants compared with 52 who left them in. It found a steady improvement in symptoms with the implant removal compared with a steady worsening of those who left them in. [Plast Reconstr Su December 2001; 108(7): pp.2165-2166]
An exhaustive review the first in almost a decade, including the latest evidence on the health effects of silicone breast implants finds no increase in the risk of cancers, connective tissue diseases, or other serious chronic diseases. The new review appears in the November 2007 Annals of Plastic Surgery, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals, and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry.
Future studies should focus on the only consistently reported association the increased suicide rate among women with cosmetic breast implants, conclude the study authors, led by Joseph K. McLaughlin, Ph.D., and Loren Lipworth, Sc.D., of the International Epidemiology Institute, Rockville, Md, and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.