Are Breast Implants Unhealthy? Here’s My Take

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I'm a Certified Health Coach, longtime blogger, and host of Elizabeth Eats on YouTube. In addition to writing recipes (I love to eat!), I'm a strong believer that life is too short to settle for anything less than living your best life.


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Something unexpected happened the other day.

While taking my morning scroll through my Instagram comments from the past 24 hours, I noticed a comment on an older post that read, “Not sure if you have answered this question previously but do you have breast implants?”

are breast implants unhealthy elizabeth rider

Now, I’ve been asked this before. I don’t really take questions like this personally and I’m sure the woman who asked is a lovely person and was just curious.

And at the same time, it brought up a lot of thoughts regarding both women’s health and the shaming of women’s bodies, so I wanted to share my thoughts here in a blog post.

The answer, in case you’re wondering, is no. I don’t have breast implants.

But this question triggered a lot of thoughts, emotions, and questions in my mind that fired in rapid order, like:

“Holy cow that’s a personal question…”

“The internet makes it so easy for people to be bold…”

“Most people are good and probably just genuinely curious when they ask a question like this…”

“Did I forget to crop my boobs again?”

“Mental note: ‘It’s ok to have boobs. They are part of you and live on your body. You don’t need to crop them out of photos..’”

“How would I react if I did have implants, would this have offended me?”

Sigh, “we always want what we don’t have, I envy girls who can wear little tanks with no bra, must be nice!”

Those are just a few examples of what ran through my head when I read that comment.

But the biggest thing that came up for me was this:

If a woman has thoughtfully considered a decision and made a choice for herself—from breast implants to getting divorced to leaving her job to start her own business—then I don’t judge her from any angle.

And that goes double for situations that I have not been in before.

I have no idea what it feels like to want breast implants because I’ve never wanted them. It’s not my place to make a judgment on someone who chooses them because I have no idea what it feels like to want them, whether it’s for aesthetic, reconstructive or any other reasons.

I went back and forth as to whether I’d write my thoughts on the topic, or even respond to the comment for that matter. I sat on it for a week and ultimately decided to write this post because, from the nature of the comment, it seemed like the commenter was “locked and loaded,” ready to shame me if I did in fact have breast implants. I could just feel it coming from the other side of my phone screen, something like “if you’re a health expert, you should know better than to get breast implants [insert shamey voice and pointed finger emoji]!”

That’s what really got me and the point I want to share: Shame is shame, friends. Let’s stop shaming women for the decisions they make about their own bodies and lives.

There are many healthy people in the world that have breast implants. Tons of health & wellness influencers have them—some of them are my friends. I can think of five women off the top of my head who teach about health and also have implants. For me, I don’t think the fact that they have breast implants discredits their teaching. I think it’s a personal decision that they made for themselves. I also have friends who have had their implants removed and feel healthier for it.

Now that that’s all out of the way, from a health perspective, if you are considering breast implants here are a few things you should know.

Breast Implant Illness & Health Considerations Regarding Breast Implants:

  1. Breast Implant Illness (BII) is possible, so do your research and have thoughtful conversations with your healthcare provider(s) about the risks of the implants and what to watch for. BII is a set of symptoms—from joint and muscle pain to memory issues, autoimmune responses, rashes, and other mystery symptoms—that don’t fit into any other medical diagnosis. While Breast Implant Illness is not currently recognized as an official medical diagnosis, many women have reported similar symptoms and the FDA recently made a statement that they are “taking steps to better characterize [BII] and its risk factors.”(1)
  2. There’s no way around it, breast implants are made from plastic materials (mainly the outer shell is silicone [even in saline implants], which is a hybrid between synthetic rubber and a synthetic plastic polymer.) Your body will recognize this as a foreign object, which can lead to autoimmune responses or other issues as noted above. Again, discuss this with your healthcare provider and know what to watch for if you choose to get them.
  3. Breast implants have a shelf life and will most likely need to be replaced at some point, which means another surgery. Again, discuss this with a board-certified surgeon and your healthcare provider.

When making any big decision, the most important thing is that you give thoughtful consideration from all angles and make the best decision for yourself.

As a health coach, yes, I want you to consider your health first. And, as I mentioned above, I’ve never been in this situation before so I’m not sure what I would choose. On one hand, I think no, absolutely not. And on the other hand, I have a friend’s mom who had a double mastectomy and chose implants and reconstructive surgery. I totally get it and might make the same decision if I was in that situation. It doesn’t matter whether the choice is for aesthetics or reconstruction, the health risks are the same. Which brings me back to my point: make the best decision for you and don’t let other people shame you one way or the other.

5 Key Factors I Consider When Making a Big Decision

This post also really got me thinking about how I make big decisions in general, so coming up next will be 5 Key Factors I Consider When Making a Big Decision. (Make sure you’re on my email list to get it! Sign up above or below this post or here.)

Whether it’s for my personal life, like getting divorced four years ago or making a change in business, these are the tools I use to make big decisions and create meaningful change for the better. I’ve created a deep sense of internal peace and a hugely successful online business with this blog over the past 10 years, and there are five key factors I consider again and again that have influenced my success. I’ll write that over the next week and share it with you in case you need some help with some big decisions. Look for that post coming next week.

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  1. Marlene says:

    As usual, your posts are thought-provoking and inspiring. You share wisdom and insight that seems to come from a very old soul. As an IIN trained health coach that has discovered what I want to be when I grow up (at age 73) I have subscribed to a lot of blogs and programs from career “experts” but your consistently kind, nonjudgmental attitude and realistic approach is refreshing, relatable and worthy of emulation. As we used to say in my younger years – “You done good!!”

  2. Cindy Woods says:

    Some of the comments are still pretty sad and judgmental. My dad recently had a hip replacement, so he now has “unnatural” substance in his body. My mother is a breast cancer survivor with an implant and is 83 years young. Finally, after living in a 32AA bra for my entire life (yep, I wore trainers), I consulted with a wonderful, compassionate plastic surgeon who listened when I said I didn’t want to be big, just bigger. I am now 32C and my self-esteem is so very healthy. Reading some of these comments made my blood boil and made me feel sorry for these commenters who throw out their opinions. “Unless you’ve walked in the shoes” is my attitude. When one of these commenters have a knee replacement, shoulder replacement, or mastectomy with reconstruction, I’d like to hear their new take on the whole thing. I certainly hope my dad’s new hip doesn’t “come out” because his body “knows” it doesn’t belong there. Elizabeth, thank you for your careful words. Obviously, you think beyond yourself and care for your readers. Oh, and I also work in the healthcare field in a surgery center, so I know how important it is to treat patients with love and compassion, not dread.

  3. Carissa says:

    I loved your comments, Elizabeth, as usual. Everything from acknowledging the okay-ness in having boobs (chuckled out loud) to the emotional spectrum you faced when personally processing the comment and deciding whether to address it publicly. Everyone is on a continuum, even if that path includes a current habit of judgmental thought or actions. People in a position of influence (like you!) who demonstrate positivity in abundance are able to nudge others in the right direction. I wouldn’t have a healthy frame of mind today had I not been accepting of role models such as yourself, and every day am thankful for the ability to change and grow. Regarding implants, I am a medical provider and agree that any substance, “natural” or “unnatural,” can alter the human microbiome. All of the current evidence suggests we have much more to learn about how these alterations affect our health. It would be wise to proceed with caution.

    • Hi Carissa, thank you for your thoughtful comments, and thank you for mentioning the microbiome here. Pointing out that we still have a lot to learn in this regard is important for everyone to consider. Glad to have you part of this community! ~E

  4. Annette says:

    I fully agree with your answer that it’s totally a personal choice. We all live in our own bodies and we are free to make our own decisions. On a personal note I got breast implants after having breastfed my two children and my breast were completely deflated. I knew it was important to my husband at the time as well and I wanted to make him happy. Moving forward 12 years now I’m at a point where I want to get them removed. I’m more aware of health and wellness at this time in my life so it’s my personal choice to get them removed. Again it’s a personal preference.

  5. Nicole says:

    What a much needed message to spread. Thank you! We definitely need to get away from shaming women…it is such a real and serious issue that so many women (and men) deal with. And thank you for posting the information about breast implants. I agree that people should do what they choose, but I don’t think that many are made aware of possible complications beforehand and may end up very sick and not have an idea why which is really sad. Hopefully anyone thinking about it reads this so they can make a more informed decision.

  6. Joelle says:

    Interesting post Elizabeth! Unfortunately, we live in a society where looks and a great body is important and that is what we are constantly bombarded with in the media. Filters and photoshop exists so that Facebook photos look their best. All of this makes it difficult for anyone to accept themselves as they are, flaws and all. It’s so nice to read a health blog like yours Liz, because eventually, looks will fade but a great health can get you through alot of active and wonderful years!

    • Joelle, I love this comment because you’re so right. Looks will fade (although, I think happy people are the most beautiful) and great health will give you so much more. Thanks for stopping by to comment! ~E

  7. Amy says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    Thank you for talking about BII and making sure your readers are aware of the dangers of breast implants.
    I have BII and many many women do. No implant is healthy or safe, but I’m happy that we now have the information out there so woman can make the best decision for themselves based on the facts. 🙂

  8. Sue says:

    Great post and timely topic. I’ve seen more people recently get their implants removed due to finding it was the cause of an autoimmune condition, whether they got them for aesthetic or reconstructive purposes. “Explant” surgery is now on the rise. I agree with you Liz, it’s a personal decision but be informed of the potential health consequences. Again, thank you for addressing this topic.

    • Hi Sue, thanks for stopping by to comment, I always appreciate your professional opinion! “Explant” surgery is definitely on the rise as we find out more and more about Breast Implant Illness and potential connections to autoimmune issues and breast implants. The most important thing is that women make an informed decision. ~E

  9. Chris says:

    I loved your answer to anyone even thinking about shaming. ‘Don’t!’ That made my day

  10. I am a medical transcriptionist and in my experience listening to procedures and what people do to themselves, it is hard to give an opinion on this topic. There are some moments when I think that I would maybe consider doing this to myself, but only if it were due to a disease such as breast cancer where my breasts were no longer my own. I hear a lot of complications that these people go through and most of them are serious. This is not only for women, but men also go through these complications. With that said, I can only say that if you are considering this please be aware of all the negative outcomes that are involved. I am not trying to discourage any one from doing anything that will make them feel better about them selves, but it is a very serious decision with a lot of serious side effects that could be life threatening. I always tell my friends and family that foreign objects in your body whether it be for contraception, pain medication or cosmetic will find a way to come out because your body knows it does not belong there.

    Good luck to anyone who does consider this option and please make yourself aware of all the serious side effects that can happen. Ultimately you are the one who is going to subject yourself to this choice.

    With lots of love to all out there.

Hi, I'm Elizabeth

I'm a strong believer that life is too short to settle for anything less than living your best life. 

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