, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 287-294
Date: 10 Jan 2011

Silicone breast implants and connective tissue disease: no association

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Abstract

The association of silicone breast implants with connective tissue diseases (CTDs), including systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia, as well as a hypothesized new “atypical” disease, which does not meet established diagnostic criteria for any known CTD, has been extensively studied. We have reviewed the epidemiologic literature regarding an association between cosmetic breast implants and CTDs, with particular emphasis on results drawn from the most recent investigations, many of which are large cohort studies with long-term follow-up, as well as on those studies that address some of the misinformation and historically widespread claims regarding an association between breast implants and CTDs. These claims have been unequivocally refuted by the remarkably consistent evidence from published studies, as well as numerous independent meta-analyses and critical reviews, which have demonstrated that cosmetic breast implants are not associated with a subsequent increased occurrence of individual CTDs or all CTDs combined, including fibromyalgia. Moreover, there is no credible evidence for the conjectured excess of “atypical” CTD among women with cosmetic breast implants, or of a rheumatic symptom profile unique to these women. No increased risk of CTDs is evident in women with extracapsular ruptures in two studies, which evaluated risk by implant rupture status, and no consistent association has been observed between silicone breast implants and a variety of serologic markers or autoantibodies. Thus, any claims that remain regarding an association between cosmetic breast implants and CTDs are not supported by the scientific literature but rather are a residual byproduct of the unprecedented large-scale product liability litigation in the USA.

This article is published as part of the Special Issue on Implanted Devices: Biocompatibility, Tissue Engineering and Infection