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Do Breast Implants Cause Cancer?

The United States Food and Drug Administration warns that women with certain kinds of textured breast implants may have a slightly elevated risk of developing a very rare form of lymphoma (cancer in the lymphatic system) called breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). BIA-ALCL is believed to be strictly associated with textured breast implants (breast implants with a rough/bumpy external surface rather than smooth) since no cases of BIA-ALCL have been reported with patients who have only had smooth implants. While this warning is alarming for many women with breast implants, it is important to understand that, according to the FDA, as of July 6, 2019, only 573 cases of BIA-ALCL have been reported worldwide and the disease is often very treatable when identified early. In an effort to improve early detection of BIA-ALCL, patients with breast implants are encouraged to be aware of any breast pain or tenderness, as well as any swelling or fluid accumulation around the implants. Patients experiencing any of these symptoms or any other irregularities irregularities (skin rash, night sweats, or lymph node enlargement) should contact their plastic surgeon for an examination and further testing, if appropriate.

While our plastic surgeon Joseph DiBello, MD has never used textured breast implants in his cosmetic breast procedures, only smooth breast implants, he welcomes any individuals to his practice who may have questions about their breast implants and/or desire examination and testing. At this time the FDA does not recommend removal of breast implants as a purely preventative measure; however, if you are diagnosed with BIA-ALCL breast implant removal (called explant surgery) and capsulectomy (removal of the scar tissue surrounding the implant) can be curative for the majority of patients. Treatment will typically involve your plastic surgeon, an oncologist specializing in lymphoma, and possibly an oncological breast surgeon. Dr. DiBello has the experience and expertise to perform these procedures and, once you are cleared by the oncologist, and can also help rejuvenate the appearance of your breasts following explant surgery by placing new implants or performing fat transfer breast augmentation procedures.

In a recent development on July 24, 2019, Allergan®, a major breast implant manufacturer, voluntarily issued a recall of BIOCELL® textured breast implant and tissue expander products. The FDA has linked these Allergan devices to 481 out of the 573 reported cases of BIA-ALCL. If you have BIOCELL® textured breast implants and want to learn more about BIA-ALCL and the next steps to take, we encourage you to contact DiBello Plastic Surgery to schedule an appointment. Dr. DiBello can answer any questions you may have, complete an examination, and suggest any indicated testing.

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