Editor’s Note: This a contentious topic on which studies are nonexistent and expert opinions are diametrically opposed. Surgeons have heated implants in microwaves, in saunas, and in hot water to no immediately obvious effect. Patients, advocates, and surgeons have likewise shared images of aged breast implants that many describe as “melted.” This article is part of our ongoing coverage of breast implants and saunas.
Kashif Khan is worried that women with breast implants are being adversely affected by sauna use.
Infrared saunas specifically.
Khan is the CEO and co-founder of a genetic testing company at which he says he and colleagues have sat face-to-face with more than 5,000 people, to help them on a journey to health.
The statements Khan made on Friday—including that breast implants melt in a sauna—are neither widely accepted nor widely studied.
Shared with the startup CEO’s nearly 325,000 followers, they’re the latest in a growing list of similar suggestions to the effect that breast implants may be adversely affected by extreme heat over a protracted period.
There are no published peer-reviewed studies that directly support or contradict Khan’s claims, though the industry’s view, as shared by multiple surgeons for years, is that sauna use is safe for women with implants.
If core body temperature reaches 115° F, death is certain.
That’s more than 100° lower than the temperature at which Khan suggests silicone breast implants start melting and leaking.
A board-certified plastic surgeon and explant specialist responding to similar claims shared last year called them “pseudoscience,” and told the Times that narratives like it being sold to patients in the BII community cause chaos and distrust of providers and peer-reviewed literature.
“I’ve seen something that isn’t being reported but that needs to be discussed,” Khan began.
Khan says a traditional sauna reaches temperatures of 150-200° degrees, but that one’s body temperature doesn’t get quite so high.
In the sauna, “your body is usually around 100°, 105°,” he says.
But if you’re using an infrared sauna, “you’re not just sitting in radiant heat.”
“There’s a wave that actually enters your soft tissue, and goes beyond the skin, deep into your body.”
The healthcare entrepreneur believes this is a concern for women with breast implants.
He also believes the spirit of his entrepreneurial work in healthcare is best captured by an apocryphal quote attributed to Henry Ford—“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Coming from outside of established healthcare, Khan believes he can see without “the blinders on,” and is working to look beyond “version two of the product—the horse—at version two of the industry—the car,” he previously shared on video.
Thus his concerns, whether properly studied or officially proven accurate, are noteworthy.
They’re allegedly the result of aspects of his and colleagues interactions with hundreds of women.
(Mr. Khan has yet to respond to an email sent Monday requesting clarification on aspects of his claims and concerns.)
“Silicone implants can melt and leak at 250 degrees. Infrared sauna’s deep tissue penetration may trigger or exacerbate breast implant illness.”Kashif Khan, CEO, The DNA Company
Khan appears to be saying infrared saunas specifically can cause a woman’s breast implants to reach temperatures of 250° while still implanted in her body, causing them to “melt and leak.”
Studies suggest heat at these levels would cause immediate tissue destruction.
“Once heat applied is 44 °C [111.2 °F] or above, tissue injury will occur, although it requires at least 6 h. Above 44 °C [111.2 °F] but below 51 °C [123.8 °F] at the skin surface, the rate of thermal injury doubles with each degree increase in temperature. Temperature above 51 °C [123.8 °F] will cause almost immediate destruction of the epidermis. Above 70 °C, [170 °F] full-thickness tissue destruction occurs in seconds.”INJURY, FATAL AND NONFATAL | Burns and Scalds, https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-12-369399-3/00209-3
“Breast implants that are made out of silicone that can melt and leak at 250° degrees,” he says.
“So now you have a context where a wave is penetrating the skin directly into the implant, creating a catalyst moment for breast implant illness and something you want to avoid.”
Khan advised women with breast implants to “tone it down” in the sauna, by reducing temperatures or shortening the length of their stay in one—”you don’t want to be in there too long,” Khan says.
“And if you can, switch to a traditional sauna.”