Breast Implant Associated Complications

There are 3.3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States who have undergone breast implant augmentation surgery. Worldwide, more than 10 million women are living with breast implants. In recent years, many complications have been attributed to these implants.

Some women experience breast implant illness, for which symptoms may include chronic fatigue and other symptoms associated with an autoimmune disease. Other women may have implants that develop a rare type of T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma around the breast implant. As of 2019, 656 cases of this rare type of lymphoma have been reported, but the actual numbers are believed to higher. Additionally, 17 deaths have been associated with this condition. In March 2019, the United States Food and Drug Administration held a meeting specifically to address the rising concerns for breast implant associated complications.

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A gift to the Breast Implant Associated Complications Fund will support research associated with breast implant complications at IU School of Medicine.

Research on Breast Implant Complications

A. Breast implant isolated from patient in IU clinic. B. Capsule surrounding the implant. C. Bacterial biofilm (shown through arrows) in capsule of the implant.

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine are investigating breast implant complications. Most of the scientific literature focuses on implant material, although silicone – the material used in implants – has been proven to be safe in multiple studies. Thus, research on other confounding factors related to breast implants is required to address the emerging complications of augmentations.

With physician partners throughout the community, IU School of Medicine researchers are investigating the role of bacterial infection as an underlying cause of problems associated with breast implants. The goal of the research is to devise ways to make the existing silicone-based implants safer and provide increased quality of life to breast cancer survivors and women with cosmetic surgeries.

If breast implant associated complications are not addressed, they could lead to restrictions on implant based surgeries nationwide. Without access to breast implant augmentation, many cancer survivors would not feel they have returned to a full, complete life when they return to health.