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Breast Implant Illnesses What's the Evidence
More than 400,000 women and teenagers undergo breast implant augmentation surgeries every year, with 75% for augmentation of healthy breasts and 25% for reconstruction after mastectomy. The popularity of breast implants has risen dramatically in the last 20 years and has more than tripled since 1997. The increase in breast implant surgery, however, does not necessarily reflect a similarly dramatic increase in the number of women with breast implants. Many women who undergo surgery are replacing old implants that have broken or caused problems, and those replacements can occur every 10-15 years or more.
Debate swirls over the risks of breast implants, and physicians and patients are justifiably confused by the conflicting information available. As concerns about breast implant safety die down, new controversies arise. For example, in 2011, the FDA announced that breast implants might cause a rare type of lymphoma called ALCL, an international scandal revealed that tens of thousands of breast implants had been made with industrial silicone instead of medical grade silicone,and the FDA issued a report reassuring women that the high complication rate for breast implants was no higher than expected.FDA discussion of complications then and now focuses on breast pain or hardness (called capsular contracture), implant rupture, and cosmetic problems in the breast area. The FDA has repeatedly reassured the public that studies “do not show evidence that silicone gel-filled breast implants cause connective tissue disease or reproductive problems and that “the FDA does not have evidence suggesting breast implants are associated with health conditions such as “chronic fatigue, cognitive issues and muscle pain.
By 2018, there were more than 50,000 women reporting a range of symptoms they refer to as “breast implant illness” on two Facebook pages: Breast Implant Illness and Healing and Breast Implant Victim Advocacy. More than a dozen Administrators and patient advocates from these two Facebook pages met with FDA officials in September 2018 to discuss their health issues and to urge the FDA to do more to require the completion of large, long-term scientific studies and to better inform women of the health problems experienced by many women as a result of their breast implants.