Commentary on: Understanding Breast Implant Illness

Aesthet Surg J. 2021 Nov 12;41(12):1367-1379. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjaa329.


Background: Breast implant surgery is the most common plastic surgery procedure performed globally. A subset of women with breast implants report experiencing a myriad of disabling and distressing physical and psychological symptoms attributed to their implants. Social media groups have coined the condition "breast implant illness" (BII). Little to no scientific research currently exists for BII.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of women with BII (both those with implants still in place and those who have explanted) and compare them with those of a control group of women with implants who do not report BII.

Methods: Women with self-reported BII and implants still in place (n = 51), self-reported BII who had explanted (n = 60), and women with implants in place without BII (n = 58) completed online self-report questionnaires about their symptoms, physical and mental health, health service use patterns, and lifestyle factors (eg, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption).

Results: Women with BII, regardless of whether they had undergone explant surgery, reported experiencing more severe somatic symptoms, higher depression, anxiety and health anxiety, and poorer physical health than women without BII.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the need for further investigation into the causes, risk factors, long-term effects, and potential interventions for women who experience BII.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Implantation* / adverse effects
  • Breast Implants* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Self Report
  • Social Media*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires