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Can Breast Implants Cause Autoimmune Diseases? – My Confession

Written by Irina Webb
Health-related claims have been reviewed by Myrto Ashe, MD, MPH, IFMCP

I can relate when I read stories of personal struggles and journeys that my readers share with me.  Many have gained their toxin awareness after brushing with cancer or autoimmune diseases.  Some have had their eyes opened faster than others, but one thing is certain – it is a process.  And I am no different.  Today I want to share with you a part of my life about which I regret now.  In my early thirties, unhappy in my first marriage, I struggled with body-image issues as many modern women do.  So, I decided to “enhance” my figure with breast implants, which now I consider a big mistake.  Subsequently, I was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases in a row.  Read on to find out if it was the saline implants that caused that, and how I dealt with it.     

Breast Implants and Autoimmune Diseases connection. A picture of a woman with potentially saline implants.

My decision to have the surgery was more emotional than reasonable.

Looking back, I understand I was very naïve about many things, including the process of the implant surgery.  Simply put, I did not invest sufficient time into determining the long-term health effects associated with implants.  Instead, I chose to trust my plastic surgeon to warn me of any possible side effects.

However, the only side effects he told me about were the risks any surgery with general anesthesia would have.  After all, he said, they had recently switched from silicone to saline implants that they deemed much safer.  He explained that in case of rupture, which, he said, hardly ever happened, the body would just absorb the saline.  Problem solved.

Fortunately, I recovered after the surgery without complications and quickly adopted the implants as a part of my body.  I did not want to think about them as two silicone bags filled with saline liquid I carried around.  Being able to wear a size B bra made it all worth it!  So, I intentionally blocked any information about the potential health effects related to breast augmentation.   

My new breast implants did not make me happier.

Several years and a divorce later, I got married again.  On our first anniversary, I was in a hit-and-run accident and ended up in the hospital with bleeding in my brain.  (Luckily, the saline implants did not burst from the impact.)  After the accident, my stomach started aching a lot.  While the doctors were working me up, I read a lot about food to find a solution to my pain.  I learned about toxins, pesticides, and the organic food movement, all of which really opened my eyes.  As a result, I decided to eat only organic food as a way of allaying my symptoms.  Besides, my doctors and other healthcare providers gave me the same advice as a possible solution.

During that extensive workup, my doctors diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease.  They said I would have to take medicine to control this condition for the rest of my life.  

Although my abdominal pain went away during pregnancy, I developed a couple of other curious symptoms.  First, I was very itchy throughout my pregnancy, and second, my skin got darker, as if I were tanned.  After I gave birth, the itchiness left, but the tan remained and even deepened with time.  Then, I started having anxiety attacks, nausea, vomiting, and extreme fatigue.  Another diagnosis followed – Addison’s Disease, an autoimmune condition when the adrenal glands stop producing cortisol, a hormone critical for living.   

It was time to face the question: Could the breast implants be affecting my health?

There may be a connection between saline breast implants and autoimmune disorders.

Reportedly, saline implants are not considered safe any longer because bacteria can grow inside them.  If they rupture and the liquid contaminated with bacteria escapes, it can make the woman quite sick.  Some doctors say even without rupture, they can leak in small amounts without visibly deflating, causing sickness (source).  The leakage may trigger mold growth around the valves, which can produce a biotoxin that may trigger an autoimmune response.  As a result, breast implant surgeons recommend changing implants every 10 years.

This raises an important question: Can breast implants cause autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Addison’s disease?

Although the first breast augmentation surgery happened in 1962, doctors do not know much about the long-term health effects of implants.  

It appears there is a link between silicone implants and autoimmunity.  In 1992, the FDA banned silicone implants due to a possible link between them and autoimmune disorders such as lupus, arthritis, and body aches (source).

The autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants is real.

Turns out, saline implants are not a big improvement.  Breast implant illness (BII) has come into the spotlight, and medical professionals have stopped brushing it off as something women imagine.  Namely, medical doctors describe BII as autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA).  Some women who have BII also get a diagnosis of a specific autoimmune or connective tissue disorder including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma.  Any breast implants, including silicone gel-filled, saline-filled, smooth surface, textured surface, round, or teardrop-shaped can trigger BII (source).

A large number of women have joined online communities about breast implant illness.  As an example, the Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole Facebook group has almost 150,000 members.

Currently, the FDA is working on labeling requirements for implant manufacturers and consent forms patients need to sign (source).

Lastly, the FDA is collecting information about cases of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL).  It is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in women with breast implants.  As of today, the FDA is aware of 60 cases of ALCL in women with implants.

Since I did not want to be a part of this human experiment, I decided to have explant surgery.    

After the removal of saline implants, my breasts were not the same as before the implant surgery.

As it turned out, the explant surgery was more complicated, much more involved, and more expensive than the implant surgery.  To clarify, when they implant, they inflate the silicone bags with saline after having put them into the body.  Thus, they need to make only tiny incisions in the hidden areas of the body.  Conversely, to take the inflated implants out, they must make big incisions under the breasts to have enough room.

Plus, the tissue capsules that grow around the implants over the years may make it challenging to take them out.  The surgeon must be able to help you decide whether to leave the tissue capsules in or take them out.  Neither option seems ideal.  In my case, they took the capsules out to remove the tissue that could have been contaminated with silicone.  This type of surgery is called En Bloc implant removal.  However, with the removal of extra tissue, the breasts may end up smaller than with the tissue left in.

That was what happened to me after my breast implants removal: my right breast was smaller than the left one.  In addition, I had visible indentations across the bottom part of my breasts.  According to my surgeon, they could be easily corrected with fat transfer/grafting.  After getting a second opinion, I decided to wait at least a year before thinking about any surgery.

In the meantime, this is what I learned about grafting.

There is a lot to consider before doing fat grafting as an alternative to breast implants.

Nowadays, fat transfer/grafting has become a popular alternative to saline implants. While it might seem to be a natural way to make breasts bigger, there is something you need to know.  (Now I know better – always do your own research!)

First of all, before injecting fat into your breast area, they must perform liposuction, a surgery under general anesthesia.  (My husband offered to be a fat donor!)

Second, fat grafting as an alternative to breast implants is a relatively recent procedure. Hence, there are no large clinical studies with long-term follow-ups to back up its safety.

Third, doctors express concern that fat injected into the breast area may stimulate the growth of cancer cells (source).  For example, according to this study, 16.7% of patients developed cysts where the injected fat calcified.  Because a mammogram would be unable to tell if the cysts are benign or cancerous, a biopsy would be needed.

On top of that, the body absorbs the injected fat over time, making further surgeries an extravagant hobby.

To me, this sounds like a nightmare.  Most importantly, why should I go through this trouble?

In the long run, explanting brought me some great results.

Here is some good news – my breasts are mostly back to normal as they were before the breast augmentation surgery.  I am so happy to be free of the saline implants and to have my natural body back!  Now I understand that beauty comes in different shapes and forms.  Moreover, I do not have to look to the beauty industry to dictate its standards and ideals to me.

I definitely have more energy now than before the explant surgery.  Thus, I can work long hours helping people reduce exposure to toxic chemicals while fully engaging in my roles as a wife and mother.

Above all, it is a miracle that after a major breast implants removal surgery under general anesthesia, I am alive!  The thing is, due to Addison’s, my body does not produce cortisol naturally.  This hormone literally keeps us alive on a daily basis, so I have to take synthetic cortisol orally.  For your information, the body’s need for cortisol goes up with stress, trauma, and illness.  Therefore, the success of the surgery largely depended on the accurate dosing of synthetic cortisol for me.  In fact, the wrong dosage could lead to a coma or death.  However, I took the risk because I felt then that it was my best chance to get well.  So, did I?  Did the explanting improve my autoimmune conditions?

With my breast implants gone, I believe I am closer to a complete recovery from the autoimmune diseases.

For starters, the saline implants removal helped me and my functional medicine doctor eliminate another potential trigger to autoimmune conditions.  Indeed, the approach of functional medicine is to find the root cause of a chronic illness.  The premise is that once the cause is eliminated, the body will heal itself.  Some common root causes of autoimmune conditions are chronic infections, harmful bacteria, food allergies, mold, heavy metals, and stress.

Two months after the explant surgery, I re-tested markers associated with mold illness, inflammation, and autoimmunity.  Some of them were way down, which was a great result, especially, given I was grieving my mom’s passing.

Moreover, with the help of my functional medicine doctor Myrto Ashe, MD, I had been cured from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  Believe it or not, but it is true!  My endocrinologist confirmed that my thyroid worked as intended whereas previously doctors had told me that there was no cure for Hashimoto’s.  To learn more about the steps I took to recovery, refer to my post My Health Update After Explant Surgery.

I am also determined to overcome Addison’s, empowered by the fact that I could reverse Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis to the disbelief of conventional doctors.  Although there is only one documented case of spontaneous recovery from Addison’s, it does not mean there weren’t other recoveries.  All it means is that the other cases were either not documented or have not been discovered yet.  Actually, in his book Cured, Dr. Jeff Rediger describes recovery stories, including recoveries from cancer.    

Summary about the connection between breast implants and autoimmune diseases

So, there it is – my confession.  I am not perfect, and even the saline implants were unable to make me perfect (or happier, for that matter).  If you have read this far, God bless you!  My hope is to use this blog to try to dissuade others from making the same mistake I made.  If you are considering implants, please use my experience as a cautionary tale.  Opening up publicly about things so personal is not easy for me.  I feel strongly, though, that if I can help spread the word, it is worth any personal embarrassment.

Ultimately, the link between breast implants and autoimmunity remains controversial.  However, there is an emerging consensus that the cause of autoimmune diseases may be related to exposure to toxins.  Therefore, I believe that explanting protected me from potential bacteria contamination that could be caused by rupture or leakage.

In addition, my family has been in the process of adopting a non-toxic lifestyle for a few years now.  Please read about safe cookware we use and an organic mattress we sleep on.  Also, read my posts to choose the best water filter system and non-toxic makeup.

Finally, visit my shop for multiple options for safe products, and check out my e-books to make informed purchasing decisions.  Besides, I am available for personal healthy living consultations.  And you are welcome to join the Savvy Consumer Circle for a deeper and fun experience with healthy living.     

66 thoughts on “Can Breast Implants Cause Autoimmune Diseases? – My Confession”

  1. Hello!
    Thank you for sharing your story. There are so many of us who did the same thing(s) that you describe in your personal story: following along, trusting those who are there nationally to ‘protect us’ regarding ingredients in our food, medicines, products we use in everyday life. Even in terms of our medical care- we have learned over time to take a more educated and directive view of our medical care, being shown that working with our Drs. instead of trusting them completely, is the best way towards our best health. Now that same assertive and educated attitude is extending to what you are doing, which is to learn about products in our lives and educating ourselves and others about toxins in medicines, products and foods in our daily lives. We can no longer afford to be ignorant of all of this- it is affecting us in real ways and we need to do this work! I appreciate knowing you, hearing from you, and the example you set to do this on our own level and in our own lives. Sharing this information with everyone is vital. Thank you for doing your part! Best of luck with your surgery, you will be receiving my prayers starting N-O-W. You will be fine. With love, Val

  2. I applauded you, thanks for sharing…no shame, you are a treasure and have helped me so much. Please rest assured your fans understand. Be safe, be well, and get healthy!

  3. Irina, I have so much respect for you in being courageous enough to share such a personal story and undergo surgery! You and your family are definitely in my prayers. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Lots of love coming your way!

  4. Irina, thank you for having the courage to talk about your condition. You can only go forward and YOU are. Because of you, I have chosen not to highlight my hair until I know if there is a safe product and method and I always look to you for my research. So you are doing great work as it is so hard to find what to use and not use. I am researching organic and safe mattresses and so confused if latex made from the sap of a rubber tree is safe. One day we will have proper labels if we all keep learning and sharing so thanks for sharing and you will do great during and after your surgery to get a foreign substance out of your body. Keep sharing your research as it is so Valuable. Thank You

    1. Hi, Kathy! Thank you so much! As for latex, the main thing is to make sure that latex is natural. And the way to do is to look for GOLS certification. They might say that it is natural but sometimes it is mixed with other undisclosed materials. With GOLS certification, you will have a piece of mind that you chose the safest latex. Let me know if you have more questions. ~Irina

  5. Praying that all goes smoothly for you every step of your surgery journey. I can understand your apprehension but also understand your wanting to go forward to get those things out. You can feel good about the fact that you have done so many positive things that have so greatly improved your health before taking this step. I can only think that your outcome will ultimately be very different and so much better than had you not made all those changes. We’ve had several health challenges in our family this past year too. I believe 2017 is going to bring good things!! Believe Big!! 🙂

    1. Lisa, thank you so much. Your encouragement means a lot to me! I believe 2017 is going to bring good things, too, and that your family improves your health. ~Irina

  6. Dear Irina,

    You have nothing to confess or apologize for. Thank you for sharing your story. Many of us have made similar decisions. I have the 12th on my calendar and will be praying for you. Please keep us posted on your progress as soon as you are able. You will remain in my prayers until I hear you are joyfully back with your family.

    In light, Karen

    1. Dear Karen: your words mean so much to me. I am deeply touched by the love I receive. If all goes well, I should be home on Friday, January 13. And I will update the entry as soon as I am able to. I am fortunate to have you as part of this community. By the way, were you able to solve your hair frizz? ~Irina

  7. Thank you Irina for sharing your story with us. It wasn’t a burden to read at all! In fact, it makes me feel closer to you. It takes a lot of courage to share and be vulnerable. I want you to know all your hard work is greatly appreciated. As a reader of your site, you are my go-to source for all things safe and natural. Thank you so much! I can only imagine what you might be feeling as you wait for your surgery. I pray it goes well. Please keep us posted.

  8. Sharing your journey and educating your followers……….a blessing

    Wishing you all the best, and a big hug for many healthy years ahead.

    Thank you Irina. 🙂

  9. Someone told me recently to fight shame with everything I’ve got as it can be so damaging. I’m trying to take that to heart and appreciate your example. Thank you for your generous willingness to share your story.

  10. Dearest Irina — I’ve been sitting here awhile and had to give up on finding words that can say enough. By the time I got to “I do not want to be a part of this human experiment,” I was sobbing, and I’m not really much of a crier. Your story is so moving and the way you told it was perfect. You have nothing to apologize for. Thank you for your honesty and your courage, and as always, for the wonderful work you do. I will be one of the many holding you in the Light on the 12th and eagerly awaiting your next post, letting us all know you are OK and on your way to perfect health. I love you. Judy

    1. Hi, Judy! Thank you so much for your kindest words. I appreciate holding me in the Light. I am sure I will feel it. ~Irina

  11. Billie D Henderson

    I am so proud of you……..May the surgery go exceptionally well and you quest for full healing be fulfilled!!

  12. Dear Irina! I read your story and was very moved by your honesty and respect you even more for all you have been through and for your brave decision for surgery!!! I wish you a successful surgery and a good fast healthy recovery!!!!!

  13. Thank you for sharing. Your commitment to taking control of your health is admirable. We really are our own best advocates when it comes to our health. Wishing you all the best tomorrow, and a speedy recovery. I hope this gives you the results you’re seeking.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story!! It is eye opening! Good luck with the surgery and continued recovery!!


  15. Hi Irina,
    I hope it goes really well and that you recover quickly.
    Thank you for sharing your story, you are a brave person.
    Sending good wishes and prayers

  16. I am thankful for the amazing work you do! Your journey to health is powerful and helps others know they aren’t alone in their struggles to find health and happiness. Prayers for your surgery and to a speedy recovery!
    God Bless!

  17. Irina, your blog changed my life when I found it upon doing research for my first baby. You had such wonderful advice, and were able to give me easy, great choices for all my baby needs (and for my own!)! The hours of endless research could finally stop! I feel so much better knowing I am getting non-toxic products for my entire family, and living a much healthier life because of it. I am so sorry to hear all you have been through with your illness, and pray your surgery goes well. We all make decisions in life we may regret, but each step makes up who we are, and how we choose to handle it says so much about a person. You have faced this with strength and courage, and I am confident your strength will see you through, emerging even stronger. I wish I could be there to give you a big hug, so a virtual one will have to do. 🙂 I look forward to reading your next post! Hugs!

    1. Hi, Kira! It is a pleasure to hear from you again! I loved working with you, helping you find affordable non-toxic baby products. I hope everything has been going well with you and your beautiful family. Hugs, Irina

  18. Irina, thank you for the encouragement and support that you have offered to so many of us seeking to live a healthy lifestyle. Your honesty will enlighten others and set you free. Thank you. I personally want to thank you for your research on healthy options for restoring gray hair. I love Hairprint, and I thank you for the research that you did. I will pray for your surgery and recovery to good health. “Oil and perfume make the heart glad; So does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart.” ‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭27:9‬ ‭AMP‬‬

    1. Hi, Eve: thank you for your kind words. It is so good to hear from you. And I am glad that Hairprint has been working out for you. We are fortunate to have this product. Thank you for telling me! ~Irina

  19. Irina –
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the best of luck with your operation and figuring out your solutions. As you know, I am a huge fan of the work that you do and the compassion that you put into it. Knowing your health history now makes all your hard work and compassion even more meaningful. Your work is so important. If there is a silver lining to all that you have gone through it is that you are helping so many other people find healthier lifestyles. Blessings to you.

  20. Irina
    Other people’s courage is only a burden when we are feeling cowardly ourselves. Thank you for sharing your story of finding the courage to face something so frightening, and thank you for finding the courage to share how much courage it took to face it. Wishing you an easy, safe surgery, and a well supported and speedy recovery.

  21. Irina, I hope the surgery went well. I am sending you love and hugs. Your sharing your story will really help raise awareness. You are incredible!

  22. You are so brave and strong to have suffered so much and still keep on serving others and carrying on the good work and message that you have. I appreciate you writing about this experience, especially since it is very personal. This is the best way to learn….from each other! Thanks again for all you do :). May you be blessed with a speedy recovery and new found health:)

    1. Thank you all for your kinds words, again! I am home and recovering. The surgery went well. And I am looking forward to sharing my research with you! Hugs, Irina

  23. Irina,
    I had no idea this was going on for you. What a terribly frightening and horrible journey you have had to endure. I am so very sorry. At the same time, I’m so inspired by your courage and grace in facing these challenges head on and for seeking out a healthy solution for yourself and your precious family. It’s incredibly brave, generous and selfless of you to share your personal health story with your readership. You will no doubt help so many by doing so. I’m so very proud of you. I just saw on FB that the surgery went well which is wonderful news. I will keep you in my thoughts and heart as you continue to heal. May you go from strength to strength. Hugs — Justine

  24. Thank you Irina for sharing this! I’m doing the same! I’m scheduled in June for explant. After I found out the toxins that are in them I started researching products. I came across your page!! I was looking for hair color. I am a stylist and I have very dark brown hair. A lady at my plastic surgeons office asked me if I heard about what the ingredients in dark color could do to you. I have never heard this before. So today I’m ordering my hairprints!! Did you use dark on your hair? Thank you so much for the time and energy you put in to providing us all with this information:) prayers for a quick recovery Hugs!

      1. Irena,
        I hope your recovery has been smooth! I can’t wait till June to have my explant! I was wondering if there is a safe self tanner and also a sun screen that you would recommend?

        1. Thank you, Theresa! I am glad you are explanting! I don’t have sufficient information about self-tanners yet. As for sunscreens, the brand I trust is Badger’s. It will leave a whitening effect but that means it works. ~Irina

  25. I’m am so relieved you are doing well, Irina. Your honesty gives us all permission to share about our journeys. Thank you!

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience with implants Irina. I too have saline implants,and have for some time now been wanting to take them out. Mine are much older than yours, but fortunately I am in good health. Nevertheless, I will make that decision soon, after researching a good surgeon,that won’t convince me not to.
    I wish you well and hope all your health issues will be reversed with time.

  27. Thank you for your story! I am now starting to research explant surgery. I wish I lived near someone on the highly recommended list. Did you choose to travel out of state to get it done by one of those doctors, or did you use someone after interviewing them that was closer? I am SO glad to hear you are doing well. Thank you for the honesty and the information. It is truly helpful.

    1. Hi, Heather: One of the surgeons on the list lives close by but I decided to go with somebody else. Thank you, Heather! ~Irina

  28. What a wonderful journey towards truth in this day’s world. That so called ‘modern’ world and yet it is stripped off of the most fundemental lesson in life: Good health. All the while it is spiraling down towards mass production of toxins for profit. But what do you do with all that money when you realise society is now plagued with all your poison. Oh, sure.. massively produce medicine for profit. Right? I learn from your and many others’ journeys if you dont have appreciation you ultimately can lose your health in some way, because you will go on about trying to change what should be appreciated in order to finally appreciate it but for what it really isn’t. That is something to think about. You’ve been through stuff. I appreciate that. So I wouldn’t change a single thing that has happened to you. ‘Cause God knows whether you’d be opening up all of our eyes the way you are every single day. Or whether you’d have been dead long before without all this knowledge and all the tragic reasons that led you to obtain it, leading us all who have learned from you into our own tiresome road to sickness, a seemingly common-place battle these days. We who learn from your researches could potentially educate others, so it keeps going on and on. That is good power. You’re one hero I should like to remember if and when my life goes down a tragic path some day and sometimes before it ever does.
    Sincerely, Wafa

  29. Hi..

    Wondering if you ever did your explant and if so, did your symptoms dissolve themselves ?

    Hoping your are healthy n healed.


  30. Thank you SO much for this info! I’ve been doing my own research for years trying to cure my Graves disease (autoimmune) and have currently put myself in remission for over 2yrs by taking Transfer Factor. Not willing to live life the way I was being forced to, I figured it would either make me better, or take me out of remission as I refused to give up my thyroid. I haven’t felt this FANTASTIC in years! I had saline implants put in 16 yrs ago, never had a problem with them and they still look remarkable so I never thought about replacing them. Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broke right? Anyway, transfer factor literally retrains your immune sytem and levels it out. By all means I beg anyone with cancer or any autoimmune disease to Google it!

    1. Hi, Angela: Congratulations! How long did you take Transfer Factor for? Did you have symptoms? Even if saline implants do not give you any problems, they are still like ticking bombs. If they rapture, they can make you very sick. ~Irina

  31. Hello, I ran across your story trying to research this for a Really close friend who found out she has Addisons Disease. I mentioned the possibility that her implants may have something to do with all of these symptoms. She quickly dismissed the idea of that being the cause.
    My question to you is how are you feeling today? I hope you will respond . Thank you A Concerned friend🙏🏼😇🙏🏼

    1. Hi, Pamela: Welcome to my blog. I hope you will stick around. I feel much better. Thank you for asking. As you might know, Addison’s is life-threatening and can be a disabling condition. I lead a super active life on a very small dose. Normally, people can’t function on it. ~Irina

  32. Hi, i had breast augmentation in june 2019.. i became ill in the december.. lke you, nausea,vomiting, headaches memory loss, weight loss, breathlessness,heart palpitations and the tan! Addisons disease diagnosed march last year.. ive just come out of hospital again with now suspected crohns disease.. do you think all of this ccould be down to the implants?

    1. Hi, Zoe: I am so sorry that you have to deal with multiple health challenges. I can’t really say what the causes were. I am sending you healing and peace. ~Irina

  33. Patti Reed-Smith

    I too have saline implants and am sick. I have come a long way so far on my own. I have fibromyalgia and etc, etc. I got down to 83 lbs. scary. But now up to more old weight 98 lbs. I have done on my own with help from my chiropractor. I have learned a lot over the last year after my convention doctor told me she thought both my implants were leaking and all about BII. I have researched the best doctors and have found one I think I will use in southern ca. What surgeon did you use? You’re right it’s so expensive. $20,000.

    1. Hi Patti! Thank you for reaching out to I Read Labels for You and sharing your experience! We are sorry to hear about what you had to go through, but it is great you are taking control of the situation! Unfortunately, Irina cannot recommend you the doctor whose services she used because the doctor’s skill was not up to par. We wish you the best!

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