Some women with silicone gel breast implants report experiencing chronic fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and severe joint and muscle pain. Patients and doctors who believe these health conditions arise from breast implants refer to them as breast implant illness, which is unrelated to BIA-ALCL. Some patients report that the symptoms subside after they have their implants removed. The presence of these symptoms has raised the conjecture among some experts that the silicone causes connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other immune system conditions.
However, a diagnosis of breast implant illness is controversial and does not meet the diagnostic criteria to be recognized as a disease, say other experts. The FDA says not enough evidence exists to either prove or disprove the existence of breast implant illness and has emphasized the need for more research.
This article first appeared in the February 2020 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.