A Practical Guide to Managing Patients with Systemic Symptoms and Breast Implants

Patricia McGuire, Daniel J. Clauw, Jason Hammer, Melinda Haws, William P. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Numerous studies have explored the possibility of an association between breast implants and systemic symptoms potentially linked to exposure to silicone. Some studies show no direct association whereas others provide insufficient scientific evidence to prove or disprove an association. Nonetheless, some patients with breast implants remain concerned about the possible role of their implants in systemic symptoms they may be experiencing. This paper provides a practical approach for plastic surgeons in managing patients with breast implants who present with systemic symptoms, including recommendations for patient counseling, clinical and laboratory assessment of symptoms, and/or referral. Integral components of patient counseling include listening attentively, providing unbiased information, and discussing the risks and benefits of options for evaluation and treatment. A thorough history and assessment of symptoms, including appropriate laboratory tests, may identify underlying conditions to expeditiously address patients' health issues through a specialist referral. Diagnosing and treating disorders that are causing a patient's symptoms, if unrelated to their implant, would avoid a potentially unnecessary surgery. Ultimately, better information is needed to reliably guide patients in an evidence-based fashion. Long-Term follow-up of patients who are explanted to see what symptoms may or may not improve could be useful in educating patients. Control groups in studies prospectively following women with implants for development of systemic symptoms would also be useful because the symptoms reported are common in women without implants. Cases are presented to illustrate the recommendations for a practical approach toward management of women reporting systemic symptoms with breast implants. Level of Evidence: 4:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-407
Number of pages11
JournalAesthetic surgery journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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