Case Study Suggests Silicone Breast Implants Could Increase Systemic Sclerosis Risk

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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shutterstock_181984850In a study entitled “Systemic Sclerosis and Silicone Breast Implant: A Case Report and Review of the Literature” the authors report a case of development of systemic sclerosis shortly after silicone breast implantation surgery. The study was published in the Case Reports in Rheumatology journal.

Systemic sclerosis is an autoimmune disease characterized by skin thickening, a process known as fibrosis. While in some types this hardening is confined to skin in head, face and feet in more severe cases, it affects internal organs such as kidneys, heart, lungs, and intestine. The disease currently lacks an approved treatment and is associated with high mortality rates. Causes for SS include both genetic and environmental factors, the latter related to exposure of chemical compounds. However, development of SS upon exposure to silicone is still a matter of debate. In fact, several studies have been published reporting a correlation between silicone breast implants and disease, such as SS but also systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren’s syndrome and other skin disorders.

Here, the authors report a case of a women, 35 years old, that was admitted to the hospital four months after a silicone breast implant surgery after experiencing Raynaud’s phenomenon – an excessively reduced blood flow as a response to cold or emotional stress, characterized by discoloration of fingers and toes. Following these symptoms, the patient developed thickening of the fingers and gastroesophageal reflux. Upon these symptoms, the patient was submitted to a wide range of exams that culminated in the diagnosis of SS. The exams to the patients’ thorax revealed no evidence of rupture or leaking of the silicone implanted in the breast.

The patient was submitted to treatment with methotrexate, nifedipine, and pantoprazole and in the follow-up, no significant results were obtained concerning lung disease or other complications.

While previous studies found no association between silicone breast implantation and connective tissue diseases, the authors suggest that further studies are still needed to obtain solid conclusions on the matter.