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If you developed Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism after breast implant surgery, or if you have Hashimoto’s and are considering breast implants, take note that both silicone and saline can make you sick.

Not only can breast implants break down, leak, or burst, but the body’s immune system may simply reject them. This rejection may lead to autoimmune reactions to other tissues in the body, meaning the immune system attacks and destroys these tissues. This can set the stage for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of illness from breast implants vary widely but often include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, brain fog, memory loss, depression, hair loss, and symptoms associated with specific autoimmune diseases.

Why breast implants are risky

All breast implants – whether filled with silicone or saline – leak and/or break down eventually. Some of the consequences are merely uncomfortable, while others, such as raising the risk of developing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, are potentially far more serious.

Sometimes an implant can last as long as 12 years without fracturing; others may develop problems within just a few months. But no implant will remain intact indefinitely.

Mammograms will not always reveal when an implant has ruptured. In fact, pressure from the mammogram itself can damage the implant.

Possible breast implant complications

Autoimmune disorders. Any foreign substance in the body can cause an autoimmune reaction, including breast implants. Sometimes removing the implants will relieve the symptoms, although the autoimmune reaction may persist after removal and require functional medicine management. This can trigger Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism in a genetically susceptible individual, exacerbate existing Hashimoto’s, or raise the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases in addition to Hashimoto’s.

Infection. Though leakage is less frequent with saline implants than with silicone implants, mold and bacteria can grow within the saline solution. It has been speculated that when the solution inevitably leaks out, it may cause illness and possibly even endanger a nursing baby, though this effect has not been conclusively studied or established. (For more about potential complications with saline implants, see the FDA’s comprehensive report on saline breast implant surgery.)

Cancers. Breast implants may be linked with cancer in two ways. One is that the implants can obstruct early detection of breast cancer. The other is that silicone implants in particular are believed by some doctors to leak cancer-causing chemicals.

Raynaud’s Syndrome. This is a condition in which blood circulation is restricted by a narrowing of the small arteries, causing coldness and numbness in the hands and feet. It occurs more often in women who have had breast implants.

All of these factors affect immune balance and function. When it comes to preventing or managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, it’s important to keep the immune system as stable and healthy as possible.

For more detail about possible complications, see the FDA’s report on Risks of Breast Implants  A new type of implant, known as stem cell fat transfer, involves injecting fat from a woman’s hips or thighs into her breasts. This may prove a safer alternative to silicon or saline, though it is still in the testing phases.

If you suspect there is a link between your breast implants and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, or if you have the autoimmune thyroid disease and are considering breast implants, contact our office. Functional medicine can improve immune function and help with autoimmune remission. We can also use testing to determine your current immune state and may assess potential risk of complications from breast implants.