Breast implants are one of the most extensively studied medical devices available today. Approved by the FDA, they provide important aesthetic and emotional benefits when used during reconstructive surgery after cancer. However, recent evidence suggests that certain implants may be associated with a very low but increased risk of developing anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL).
You likely have questions about this condition if you are considering breast reconstruction with implants or have undergone the procedure. With a significant amount of misinformation circulating online, our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons are committed to providing you with accurate, transparent information regarding breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
If you have any concerns or would like to know more, call our office today at 303-706-1100. The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery proudly serves Lone Tree and Denver, Colorado and patients nationwide.
What is BIA-ALCL?
BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer. It is a rare and treatable type of lymphoma that can develop near textured breast implants. It is usually found in the fluid or the fibrous scar capsule surrounding an implant, not in the actual breast tissue.
When BIA-ALCL is caught and treated early, most people have an excellent recovery rate. Treatment typically involves removing the breast implants and the surrounding tissue capsule. After implant removal, autologous reconstruction may be an option for restoring breast appearance.
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL
On average, BIA-ALCL symptoms develop 8 to 10 years after breast implant placement. The most common symptoms are:
- Breast enlargement
- Breast asymmetry
- Breast pain
- Fluid buildup
- Overlying skin rash
- A lump in the breast or armpit
Experiencing these symptoms does not guarantee a BIA-ALCL diagnosis. Some of these symptoms may indicate the presence of other concerns, such as a ruptured implant or an infection. As always, it is important to schedule a breast exam if you notice any unusual or unexplained changes.
BIA-ALCL Risk Factors
BIA-ALC is currently linked to textured breast implants. Beyond that, it has developed in women who have undergone breast reconstruction with implants and women who have had breast augmentation. Additionally, it has been found in women with silicone and saline breast implants alike.
For women with textured implants in the US, experts currently put the risk of developing BIA-ALCL at 1 in 30,000. This number is an average of different types of textured implants, including those known to have a higher risk.
In July of 2019, Allergan, a large breast implant manufacturer, issued a worldwide recall of their BIOCELL textured breast implants and tissue expanders. This action was due to a potential link to cases of BIA-ALCL.
The purpose of the recall was to take back unused products from suppliers and doctors’ offices. The FDA is not currently recommending the removal of these implants without symptoms due to the low risk of developing BIA-ALCL. The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery has never used these products.
What BIA-ALCL Means For Reconstruction Patients
The risk of developing BIA-ALCL after implant placement is very low. Still, it is a factor to consider as a breast reconstruction patient. Most patients agree that the benefits of implant reconstruction significantly outweigh the rare chance of developing BIA-ALCL.
If you have already completed your implant-based breast reconstruction, there are a few important things to know. First, the FDA is not recommending the proactive removal of any breast implants. However, you can decide to pursue breast implant removal for peace of mind. Second, the implants we prefer to use at our practice, Mentor Smooth Round Moderate Plus, were not involved in any recall and have not been linked to this condition.
Receive Recommendations For Your Specific Situation
Our surgeons are here to help you figure out what is best for your wellbeing. We will gladly answer any questions that you have about BIA-ALCL and how it may affect your breast reconstruction decisions.
Call 303-706-1100 today to schedule a consultation at The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery. We welcome patients from Denver, Lone Tree, and nearby areas of Colorado.