With recent concerns over the safety of breast implants, recalls, and other health issues, Associated Plastic Surgeons wanted to reach out to all of our patients who have had breast surgery with implants – either reconstructive or aesthetic – to hopefully answer some common questions and remind all how important it is to maintain regular, yearly follow-up appointments with your doctor.
On July 24, 2019, the implant device company Allergan issued a recall on BioCell textured implants and tissue expanders. This was done based on concerns that textured implants are associated with a very rare type of cancer called BIA-ALCL (Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma) that can occur in and around the tissues surrounding a textured implant.
It is important to stress that ALCL is extremely rare, even if someone had a reconstruction or augmentation with textured implants or tissue expanders. To date, 573 cases of BIA-ALCL have been described worldwide, which includes 33 death related to this specific type of ALCL. This is out of 25 million women in the world with breast implants. Fortunately, if caught at the first sign of swelling, BIA-ALCL is curable by removing the implant and the connective tissue capsule that forms around the implant.
So what does this mean for you? Currently, given how rare BIA-ALCL is, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend removing textured implants for prevention only. Instead, they recommend, and stress the importance of, following-up regularly with your plastic surgeon. (If you or someone you know is no longer near their surgeon, a board-certified plastic surgeon can be located by visiting the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website at https://find.plasticsurgery.org).
What should you be on the lookout for? Signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL include swelling, pain, asymmetry, or lumps/masses. Though gradual changes in breast shape do occur with time and gravity, any changes that seem, abnormal, painful, or sudden, should prompt a call to our office so we can schedule you to come in for a check-up. The vast majority of the time these findings do not represent anything serious; however, it is always smart to be vigilant and follow-up.
As plastic surgeons, your health and safety are, and always have been, the most important thing! Please feel welcome to call the office at any time with questions or concerns. If you currently have a silicone breast implant, textured or smooth, please ensure you have regular follow-up visits scheduled at Associated Plastic Surgeons, 913.451.3722. We are here for YOU!