Can Breast Implants Steal Your Memory?

Breast Implant Illness

Content updated from previous publish date.

“Breast implant illness is a real thing.”

When professional race car driver and podcast host Danica Patrick heard Dr. Daniel Amen say this in an episode of his online series Scan My Brain, she gave him a high-five and responded, “Thank you for saying that. Not many doctors do.” Patrick lived with breast implants for 7 years before choosing to have them removed. She had been dealing with health issues, including low thyroid function, leaky gut, and severe heavy metal toxicity, which she thinks may have been linked to the implants. Her healthcare providers treated her thyroid and gut issues, but the biggest change in her health came after breast implant removal. “I found immediate relief,” she says.

Patrick isn’t the only one who has had issues with breast implants. Other women, including supermodel and actress Angie Everhart and television personality Yolanda Hadid, have spoken publicly about having their implants removed due to a variety of health issues. Hundreds of thousands of other women have voiced concerns about a variety of cognitive, memory, emotional, and physical problems linked to breast implant illness (BII).

Hundreds of thousands of women have voiced concerns about a variety of cognitive, memory, emotional, and physical problems linked to breast implant illness. Click To Tweet


Breast implant illness is a largely misunderstood syndrome comprised of a wide range of issues, including neurological dysfunction, toxicity, autoimmune issues, endocrine problems, and metabolic dysfunction. These issues are experienced by some of the women who undergo breast augmentation surgery with either saline or silicone implants. With 365,000 procedures performed in 2021, breast augmentation remains one of the most popular cosmetic plastic surgery procedures performed in the U.S., according to the Aesthetic Society.

There are no hard statistics on the number of women who suffer from BII, but the Healing Breast Implant Illness Society of North America has a Facebook group page with over 170,000 members. The condition has been viewed as controversial, but in a statement issued in May 2019, the FDA finally acknowledged breast implant illness and wrote, “the current evidence supports that some women experience systemic symptoms that may resolve when their breast implants are removed.”


Breast implant illness is associated with a veritable laundry list of symptoms, including but not limited to brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, depression, mood swings, decreased libido, insomnia, chronic fatigue, and more. Some women complain of symptoms typically associated with infections, such as Lyme disease or Epstein-Barr virus.

One study analyzing medical data from 131 women with breast implants found that on brain SPECT imaging 67% had low blood flow to the brain in no particular pattern. SPECT is a brain-imaging technology that measures blood flow and activity in the brain and reveals areas with healthy activity, too much activity, and too little activity.

For this review, which appeared in the journal Neurology, the researcher also found that 100% of the women complained of at least one non-neurological symptom, including:

  • Fatigue (82%)
  • Numbness or tingling in the upper extremities (50%)
  • Headache (47%)
  • Numbness or tingling in the lower extremities (41%)
  • Back pain (37%)
  • Gait disturbance (35%)
  • Neck pain (35%)
  • Dizziness (34%)
  • Blurred vision (18%)
  • Double vision (8%)


Researchers are still trying to understand why breast implants and the capsules that form around them can cause troublesome symptoms, such as cognitive impairment. Among the hypotheses, some point to an inflammatory response to the implants as well as toxic chemicals used in the implants.

Chronic inflammation can damage your brain and mind. It has been associated with a wide range of neurological and psychiatric illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and personality disorders.

To test for chronic inflammation, ask your physician to check your C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Having high levels of CRP is associated with increased inflammation.

Another potential danger lies in the chemicals contained in silicone and saline breast implants. According to the Healing Breast Implant Illness website, the chemicals used in implants include several known neurotoxins, heavy metals, and other toxins. Environmental toxins poison the brain in many harmful ways. Long-term exposure to toxins has been associated with an increased risk for depression, ADD/ADHD, brain fog, temper outbursts, psychotic behavior, learning problems, memory loss, autism, and dementia.

Dr. Pierre Blais, a former Canadian government researcher, and senior scientific advisor is considered the foremost expert on breast implants as failed medical devices. He says that because breast implants are not lifetime devices, they eventually degrade and can release their contents. “The released substances are aggressive and some are outright toxic,” he told Longevity Magazine in 2018.

After testing thousands of implants, Dr. Blais has found that implants are also susceptible to mold, yeast, and bacterial infections. Toxic mold, fungal infections, and certain bacterial infections (such as Lyme disease) are also associated with contributing to symptoms of psychiatric illness.


Cognitive dysfunction, memory problems, and brain fog are signs of potentially serious brain health issues. Getting a full workup that includes brain SPECT imaging, lab testing, and neuropsychological assessments can be the key to finding the root cause of your symptoms. Be sure to inform your physician if you currently have breast implants or if you’ve had them removed (and if the capsule and scar tissue were also removed). Your brain health depends on it.


Research on breast implant illness has been scarce, but a 2020 study in Annals of Plastic Surgery confirms what the FDA wrote. The new study found that removal of breast implants and the capsules led to significant improvement in 11 common symptoms of the condition.

The study included 750 women who underwent breast implant and capsule removal. Some of the women had saline implants, others had silicone implants, and there was a mix of smooth, textured, and polyurethane-coated implants. The women reported the following 11 symptoms, which are commonly seen in BII:

  • Memory loss/cognitive problems
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Numbness/tingling in the extremities
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Breast pain
  • Hair loss
  • Dry eyes and/or blurred vision
  • Rashes and/or hives
  • Food sensitivity/intolerance
  • Flu-like symptoms and/or low-grade fever
  • Difficulty breathing

According to the study results, there was a significant improvement in all 11 symptoms within 30 days of removal. And another follow-up study showed that those improvements were sustained beyond the first month.


The detoxification and healing process following breast implant removal can continue for a few years. To support detoxification, follow these tips:

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Choose foods that are free of pesticides, artificial dyes and preservatives, sugar, gluten, and dairy.
  • Eliminate exposure to toxins. Quit smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Drink more water. This helps flush toxins from your kidneys.
  • Take saunas. One study found that saunas lowered toxin levels in firefighters.
  • Toss out toxic household cleaners and personal care products. Use an app like Think Dirty ( to check for toxins in the products you use.
  • Use an air purifier.

For women like Danica Patrick, who choose breast implant removal, relief from symptoms may come quickly. But as Patrick says, “Healing’s not linear. It feels like you make a lot of [progress] and you’re feeling really good, and then you kind of regress, and then you feel better.” This is a common pattern among patients at Amen Clinics. The path to recovery has ups and downs. When you experience setbacks, be curious, not furious. Think about what might have contributed to the regression and make a plan to help you support the healing process.

Memory loss, brain fog, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Hello,

    Is breast implant removal covered by insurance?

    Thank you,

    Mika Iniguez

    Comment by Mika — July 19, 2020 @ 2:57 PM

  2. Where can get the implants removed?

    Comment by Margarita — July 20, 2020 @ 3:21 AM

  3. Hello Margarita, Amen Clinics does not perform this service. Please follow-up with your medical provider. Thank you!

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 20, 2020 @ 6:10 AM

  4. Hello Mika, Amen Clinics does not perform this service. Please follow-up with your medical provider. Thank you!

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 20, 2020 @ 6:10 AM

  5. Go the the site. There is a page listing recommended plastic surgeons who perform explantation. Read around the site to learn in depth about BII and explantation. Join the FB groups about BII (one is mentioned above; another is — you will learn lot by reading posts and comments from women around the world who have experienced BII and have had their implants removed. You really have to dive in and immerse yourself to get a grasp on this topic and its effects on women, your options, etc.

    Comment by Katy — July 22, 2020 @ 10:32 AM

  6. Go the the site. There is a page that identifies the few circumstances under which insurance will pay for explantation. Also look for the page listing recommended plastic surgeons who perform explantation. Read around the site to learn in depth about BII and your options. The site mentioned in the article is also worthy of your study. And, there are at least three FB groups about BII too — search for them and see my comment below.

    Comment by katy — July 22, 2020 @ 10:34 AM

  7. Which type of implant does this

    saline or silicone

    Comment by GG — March 24, 2023 @ 5:09 AM

  8. I had mine removed in 2018 and it literally saved my life. I was at death's door. My toxins test matched the ingredients of my implants. I am so much healthier now and got my life back. Thank you for recognizing this as a real illness.

    Comment by Jennifer — March 24, 2023 @ 7:43 AM

  9. Thank you for bringing more people's attention to this important topic! I explanted a few weeks ago, and was happy to discover this article. It is wonderful to see that a world renowned brain expert is educating people in a holistic way about issues that can impact mental and physical health. I shared the article with my FB support groups.

    Comment by Norah Eastern — March 24, 2023 @ 11:42 AM

  10. Not only cognitive issues. A family member had both breasts removed and reconstruction with silicon and has to deal with constant infections. I think they are wearing down her immune system after hsving so many antibiotics to fix

    Comment by Deb — March 24, 2023 @ 1:49 PM

  11. This article was concerning not because of the illness but because I had a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction. It was bad enough having to lose both breasts having to think about this doesn't help my recovery.

    Comment by Colleen Sullivan — March 27, 2023 @ 2:40 PM

  12. What about knee replacements ?
    Are they toxic and increase autoimmune issues ?

    Comment by Mary — March 29, 2023 @ 1:16 PM

  13. I’m 20 months post explant after 24 years (3lots/last ones 14 years). Since explant they’ve found a large 10x3x2.5cm arachnoid cyst and 8mm pineal. Constant migraines/headaches, balance, mood & memory issues, had breast, perineal, skin cysts too. The pathology of breast and muscle tissue found mass cell migration caused by silicone. My question is how likely are my cysts related to this? I’m very symptomatic with my brain cysts and the neurologist has left me with propranolol but I’ve no life worth living due to the headaches etc and asked for surgery but my last 2 correspondence have not been answered. Breast implants ruined my life and health & although some BII symptoms have resolved I’m fighting to stay alive here and the UK’s NHS is not very forthright in getting people seen and treated and I can’t live like this. I know the implants are highly likely to have caused these brain cysts?

    Comment by Bee — April 21, 2023 @ 1:47 AM

  14. Hi, I had my silicone breast implants removed March 15th, in office without anesthesia and without capsules being removed. It was a hard decision to make as it was a prosthesis. I have symptoms of BII, Fibromyalgia, brain fog, bladder frequency issues, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, neck and shoulder issues and pain in chest. Developed OCD, depression, severe anxiety and personality disorders, bipolar and PTSD, sleep disorder. I hoped removal would help. I was not sure about having the capsule removed. The implants were not leaking, I did not have inflammatory markers, negative Hashimoto's and all blood work ok. The Dr who installed them suggested to just do in office and avoid excessive anesthesia. I did not want to create a flare of chronic pain. I was told since they are not leaking we could just remove. I signed a waver and went forward. I know that a lot of people were promoting the removal of the capsule. I maybe should have removed it as now I am suffering from extreme memory issues, memory loss, pain in my feet. Less pain in neck and shoulders and it just feels better having them out. I did an infrared sauna and trying to detox. I am overweight and can't seem to lose it. I am so lost and wish I could see Dr Amen. There is no conclusive evidence about capsules but a lot of people insisted. I wish I maybe had but it's very invasive and dangerous to "scrape" the chest. It is all experimental, I really wish I had my health. I am now lopsided because I had a deformity which is why I got them in the first place. I am left disabled and shamed. Mental health has not helped and I have tried everything. I read Dr Amens books, any help or suggestion would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Comment by Marie — May 31, 2023 @ 9:42 PM

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