Breast implant illness: 7 Warning Signs to Watch for

Whenever a patient undergoes an invasive surgery, there are risks involved. Breast augmentation is no different. Although this surgery is generally extremely safe, in rare circumstances, complications such as breast implant illness may occur. 

What Is Breast Implant Illness?

Breast implant illness

Breast implant illness (also known as BII) is a term often used to denote a wide range of complications that may occur after breast augmentation. For the most part, BII is not a formal term used by professionals (it is more often used by patients) because it is so broad. For example, BII symptoms may cover various types of indications — from chronic fatigue and concentration problems to headaches and dry mouth and eyes.

While certainly there are possible complications that may occur after breast augmentation surgery, doing your research ahead of time and knowing what to look for are the best ways to avoid such problems. Let’s take a closer look at breast implant illness in general, as well as what BII symptoms you should be especially cognizant of during your recovery.

7 BII Symptoms to Watch for After Breast Augmentation

Although BII is not fully understood, it is associated with specific symptoms. After your breast surgery, it’s important to be aware of breast implant illness and to know what to look for in case it becomes a problem for you. 

Again, breast implant illness is rare, but the following BII symptoms should be on your radar as you recover from your augmentation.

1. Changes in sleep patterns.

Many patients notice a disruption in their sleeping after breast augmentation surgery. However, this is often caused by the fact that patients must sleep on their backs and slightly elevated after the procedure — a naturally uncomfortable position. If you notice persistent changes in your sleeping patterns, however, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep or overall insomnia, talk to your doctor.

2. Mental and emotional shifts

Certain mental and emotional states may be associated with breast implant illness. These include forgetfulness, overall “brain fog”, trouble concentrating, and loss of short and/or long-term memory.

3. A lack of energy

Patients who struggle with BII symptoms may also complain that they feel fatigued for the majority of the day and lack energy overall.

4. An imbalance 

of hormones

Hormonal imbalances may be another symptom of breast implant illness. Patients who suddenly notice irregular or strange symptoms such as low libido levels, hair loss, extreme weight gain or weight loss (with no clear explanation), adrenal hypofunction or hyperfunction, the onset of menopause at too early an age, or irregular menstrual periods should contact their doctors.

5. Changes in your skin

Look for changes in your skin, such as allergic reactions, hives or rashes, itchiness or eczema, freckles (where there were no freckles before surgery), or other changes in texture or pigmentation.

6. Digestive issues

Some BII patients have claimed complications related to leaky gut syndrome, constipation, loose stools, or the malabsorption of foods.

7. Breast-related symptoms

Symptoms directly related to the breasts may also be associated with BII. These unusual changes may include discharge from the nipples, breast rashes, overall redness, discomfort, soreness, pain, changes in

 overall breast shape, and swelling.

*Note that the above symptoms are often associated with other medical conditions as well — or may be benign or short-term issues. Always consult with your doctor or surgeon if you have unusual symptoms.

Other Medical Risks Associated With Breast Augmentation

Breast implant illness is still misunderstood in many ways, and it continues to be studied. However, other, more acute physical complications can also occur with breast augmentation. Although rare, it’s important to be aware of the following risks in addition to BII symptoms:

  • Changes in breast and/or nipple sensation
  • BIA-ALCL (breast implant associated-anaplastic large cell lymphoma)
  • Deflation of the breasts
  • Rupture of the breasts (leaking)
  • Capsular contracture (painful squeezing of the implants caused by scar tissue)
  • Breastfeeding complications
  • Connective tissue disease

Aesthetic Risks of Breast Augmentation

In addition to medical risks after breast augmentation surgery, it’s also important for patients to be aware of aesthetic risks. In certain occasions, when patients don’t fully explain their goals or when a doctor doesn’t have a good idea of what the patient is looking for, the following undesirable outcomes may occur:

  • Size Issues: One of the biggest aesthetic risks we want to avoid is ending up with implants that are too small or too large for what you want. This is why it’s so important to try on implants during the planning phase of your surgery. That way, you can actually see what implant size you like best and what works best for your anatomy and lifestyle.
  • Bottoming Out: This occurs when the breast tissue does not properly hold your implants in place. Without this support, the implants may fall too low on the chest and will need to be repositioned.
  • Too High on the Chest: Just as your implants may end up too low on the chest due to bottoming out, they may also end up too high on the chest. Keep in mind that breast implants will often appear higher up on the chest at the beginning of your recovery. This does not necessarily mean that they were misplaced. Swelling and tightness is common directly after surgery, and implants will generally settle into place (lower) as you continue to heal. 
  • Too Wide or Close Together: Implants may also be placed too far away from each other (laterally) or too close together. Again, this may be a placement issue.
  • Asymmetry: Finally, in very rare cases, the breasts may end up asymmetrical after surgery.

Learn More About Breast Augmentation

While it’s important to watch out for signs and symptoms of complications after breast augmentation surgery, the vast majority of surgeries are completely safe, and patients are overwhelmingly satisfied with their results. Of course, it’s always a good idea to do your research and ask questions before undergoing any type of cosmetic procedure. 

To learn more about the breast augmentation process and whether you would be a good candidate for surgery, call our office today to schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Raja Mohan. We look forward to hearing from you!


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