The Plastic Surgery Foundation
Log In Donate Now

Grants We Funded

Grant applicants for the 2022 cycle requested a total of over $2.9 million dollars. The PSF Study Section subcommittees of Basic & Translational Research and Clinical Research evaluated 115 grant applications on the following topics:

The PSF awarded research grants totaling almost $550,000 to support 19 plastic surgery research proposals.

ASPS/PSF leadership is committed to continuing to provide high levels of investigator-initiated research support to ensure that plastic surgeons have the needed research resources to be pioneers and innovators in advancing the practice of medicine.

Research Abstracts

Search The PSF database to have easy access to full-text grant abstracts from past PSF-funded research projects 2003 to present. All abstracts are the work of the Principal Investigators and were retrieved from their PSF grant applications. Several different filters may be applied to locate abstracts specific to a particular focus area or PSF funding mechanism.

Silicone toxicity and auto-immune disease in breast implant patients

Principal Investigator
Michael Delong MD


The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles

Funding Mechanism
Directed Research Grant

Focus Area
Breast (Cosmetic / Reconstructive), Technology Based

Breast implants, used for reconstruction after mastectomy or for cosmetic augmentation, are one of the most commonly implanted medical devices and are used in roughly 400,000 patients per year in the United States alone. However, since their initial introduction they have been the subject of criticism and controversy from many patients and advocacy groups. For the past several decades, tens of thousands of women have reported numerous systemic symptoms that they refer to as breast implant illness (BII), ranging from chronic fatigue to memory loss and joint pain. Concerns surrounding the long-term safety of breast implants led to a temporary moratorium on silicone-gel filled breast implants (SGBI) for cosmetic use in the United States in 1992. When these SGBI were then approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, it was under the condition of mandatory large post-approval studies to investigate rare adverse events including systemic illness and autoimmune disease over a 10 year follow-up period. However, follow up rates in these manufacturer-led studies were inadequate and limited their ability to provide meaningful results. A subsequent meta-analysis detected an association between SGBI and Rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogrens disease, but reported inconclusive results due to heterogeneous data. Given the large number of women with breast implants who report systemic symptoms, and the wide-spread use of SGBI, it is imperative that the possible role of silicone in systemic symptoms be investigated. Silicone compounds are known to leach from SBGI, with detectable systemic levels even in women with intact SGBI. Given the notable immune response to injected or exposed silicone gels, it is not inconceivable that these compounds have some effect on patient physiology. No study has examined the levels of silicone compounds in women with self-reported BII compared to asymptomatic counterparts. Our laboratory has developed an assay for measuring the levels of silicones and silicone metabolites in urine, and intends to use this assay to explore their possible association with patient symptoms. Additionally, some believe that BII is a form of auto-immune syndrome induced by adjuncts (Shoenfeld's syndrome), and we will test symptomatic women and control patients for autoimmune markers and genetic markers that may be associated with an adverse foreign body reaction.

As a plastic and reconstructive surgery resident physician at the University of California at Los Angeles, I am interested in general clinical plastic surgery spanning both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. My research interests include translational medicine and the development of new technologies. In medical school I spent a dedicated year investigating innovative bispecific antibody therapies for glioblastomas. I was also the lead author on a manuscript characterizing the use of a novel sternal closure device. In addition, I have published on academic careers in plastic surgery, maintain a strong commitment to academic medicine, and am planning to take two dedicated research years during my residency. Recently, I have developed a specific interest in breast implants. I currently serve as the principal investigator on an active grant using a highly sensitive genotyping detection method to better understand the subclinical infection hypothesis for capsular contracture. I ultimately hope to contribute to the development of novel technologies, specifically for improving breast implant devices with the goal of reducing complications, morbidity, reoperation rates, and costs associated with their use.