How do you diagnose BII (Breast Implant Illness)?

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Written by Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Nima Naghshineh, MD, FACS on July 8th, 2020.

Because breast implant illness is not a formal diagnosis of a disease, there are no particular criteria for diagnosing breast implant illness and there are no specific tests for breast implant illness. However, because of the symptoms associated with breast implant illness can overlap with existing known diseases (such as autoimmune diseases), it is important to rule out these known diseases at the same time as exploring the possibility of breast implant illness.

Your plastic surgeon may order several different tests including imaging studies like an ultrasound or an MRI. There will likely be bloodwork. This bloodwork may test your -

  • Blood counts

  • Liver function

  • Electrolytes

  • Inflammatory markers (ESR,CRP)

  • Immune system markers

  • Iron levels

  • Autoimmune disease markers, including those testing for Sjorgens, Hashimotos, Rheumatoid, Lupus, Scleroderma etc.

If there is fluid around the implant it may be tested for various microorganisms -

  • Aerobic bacteria

  • Anaerobic bacteria

  • Atypical bacteria

  • Mycobacterium

  • Fungus

Also, if there is fluid around the implant or a mass this may be tested much the same way it would be for BIA-ALCL (see BIA-ALCL diagnosis article). You may even be referred to a rheumatologist for additional work up.

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