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Getting breast implants can change a person’s life for the better.

But in recent years, women have suspected that their breast implants have made them very ill with diseases such as:

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgeon Foundation, approximately 10 million to 11 million women in the world have breast implants. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates that more than 400,000 women and teenagers undergo breast implant augmentation surgeries every year, with 75% for the augmentation of healthy breasts and 25% for reconstruction after mastectomy.

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Breast implant recipients continue to report symptoms similar to those of autoimmune disorders including fatigue, muscle and joint aches, fevers, dry eyes and mouth, and occasionally poor memory or concentration. Although not a medical diagnosis, these symptoms are commonly referred to as Breast Implant Illness (BII).

The main symptoms of BII include:

  • continuous swelling or pain around the breast implant, which may occur long after a surgical incision has healed or many years after implants are inserted
  • fluid collection around the breast implant
  • capsular contracture, which can cause a lump under the skin or thick scar tissue around the implant resulting in a misshapen appearance

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) held a two-day public advisory meeting on March 25 and 26, 2019 in Washington, D.C. A number of women spoke out about their health problems after receiving breast implants and encouraged the FDA and the medical community to recognize BII as a diagnosable medical condition, formally tie it to breast implants, and stop dismissing women who complain of its symptoms.

While the syndrome is not recognized by many doctors or health insurers, there are more than 170 groups and communities devoted to it on Facebook alone, the largest including more than 70,000 members.