Is explantation of silicone breast implants useful in patients with complaints?

M. de Boer, M. Colaris, R. R. W. J. van der Hulst, J. W. Cohen Tervaert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this review, we present a critical review of the existing literature reflecting the results of explantation of silicone breast implants in patients with silicone-related complaints and/or autoimmune diseases. A literature search was performed to discuss the following issues: which clinical manifestations and autoimmune diseases improve after explantation, and what is the course of these complaints after explantation. Next, we reviewed studies in which the effect of explantation on laboratory findings observed in patients with silicone breast implants was studied, and lastly, we reviewed studies that described the effect of reconstruction of the breast with a new implant or autologous tissue after explantation. We calculated from the literature that explantation of the silicone breast improved silicone-related complaints in 75 % of the patients (469 of 622). In patients with autoimmune diseases, however, improvement was only infrequently observed without additional therapy with immunosuppressive therapy, i.e., in 16 % of the patients (3 of 18). The effect of explantation did not influence autoantibody testing such as ANA. We discuss several possibilities which could clarify why patients improve after explantation. Firstly, the inflammatory response could be reduced after explantation. Secondly, explantation of the implants may remove a nociceptive stimulus, which may be the causative factor for many complaints. Options for reconstruction of the explanted breast are autologous tissue and/or water-/hydrocellulose-filled breast implant. Unfortunately, in very few studies attention was paid to reconstructive possibilities. Therefore, no adequate conclusion regarding this issue could be drawn. In conclusion, explantation is useful for improvement of silicone-related complaints in 75 % of the patients, whereas in patients who developed autoimmune diseases improvement is only observed when explantation is combined with immunosuppressive therapy. In a patient with silicone-related complaints in which explantation is considered, the patient should be counseled for the different options of reconstruction after explantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalImmunologic Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • Silicone breast implants
  • Silicone (adverse effect)
  • Explantation
  • Removal
  • MICE


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