Seminars in Immunopathology

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 287–294 | Cite as

Silicone breast implants and connective tissue disease: no association

  • Loren Lipworth
  • Lisbet R. Holmich
  • Joseph K. McLaughlin


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.


Cosmetic breast implants Connective tissue disease Fibromyalgia Rheumatologic symptoms Autoantibodies Implant rupture 



Dr. McLaughlin has served as a consultant to the Inamed Corporation. The International Epidemiology Institute has received research funding for projects from Dow Corning Corporation, 3M Company and the Plastic Surgery Educational Fund of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. None of the authors was compensated for this review.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loren Lipworth
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lisbet R. Holmich
    • 3
  • Joseph K. McLaughlin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.International Epidemiology InstituteRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Preventive Medicine (LL) and Medicine (JKM)Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Plastic SurgeryHerlev HospitalHerlevDenmark

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