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Are Breast Implants Safe?

At our practice your safety and satisfaction are always our primary concerns, which is why we think it is important to address recent news about the safety of breast implants. You may have heard about the FDA’s announcement regarding cases of Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), which have been linked to textured surface breast implants. The medical device company Allergan® has also voluntarily recalled its BIOCELL® textured breast implants and tissue expanders in response to the FDA’s announcement about BIA-ALCL cases. Our plastic surgeons, James Vogel, MD and Carrie Houssock, MD, are fully informed on all of these topics and want you to have the facts about the latest breast implant news and BIA-ALCL:

  • While reports about BIA-ALCL (a very rare form of lymphoma) may be alarming, only 573 cases have been reported worldwide since July 6, 2019. The vast majority of these cases have been linked to textured (bumpy surface) breast implants, leading the FDA to conclude that patients with textured implants have a higher risk of developing BIA-ALCL. Although occurrences of BIA-ALCL are low, any patient who is considering breast implants of any type should be aware of BIA-ALCL risks.
  • BIA-ALCL is very treatable when diagnosed early and patients with breast implants are encouraged to be aware of any changes in breast tenderness, swelling, and/or pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or others including lymph node enlargement, night sweats, and/or a skin rash, we suggest you contact our office to schedule an examination with one of our plastic surgeons who may recommend further testing (if indicated).
  • If a diagnosis of BIA-ALCL is reached, explant surgery can remove breast implants and a capsulotomy may be performed to remove the affected scar tissue capsule that surrounds the implant. For the majority of patients in whom BIA-ALCL is caught early, these procedures can potentially be all that’s required to eliminate the presence of the condition. Patients with more advanced BIA-ALCL may require additional treatments, which would be handled by an oncologist.
  • The FDA is not recommending the removal of textured breast implants solely as a means of preventing BIA-ALCL; however, patients with this type of breast implant may choose to have their implants removed and replaced with new implants or fat transfer if desired. Dr. Vogel and Dr. Houssock are both experienced in corrective breast surgeries, implant replacement, and fat grafting.
  • The Allergan BIOCELL recalls are related to unused stock of BIOCELL implants and tissue expanders. BIOCELL implants and tissue expanders that have been placed do not have to be removed unless signs of disease are detected and a physician recommends removal, OR the patient simply wishes to remove them. Patients with BIOCELL implants and tissue expanders should be mindful of any unusual changes in their breasts which could be symptomatic of BIA-ALCL.

If you are unsure of what type of breast implants you have, we encourage you to contact the plastic surgeon who performed your breast augmentation (or breast lift with augmentation) procedure to get the details related to your breast implants. For patients with textured implants who have questions and concerns, or anyone experiencing bothersome symptoms related to their breast implants, Dr. Vogel or Dr. Houssock can meet with you privately to provide you with answers, perform an examination, suggest further testing, and discuss any procedure options you may be considering. To schedule your appointment, please contact our office and speak with a knowledgeable member of our team.