The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) recently revealed that breast augmentation was the most-performed plastic surgery procedure for the second year in a row.
This popularity is evidenced by the fact that between 20-35 million women worldwide have breast implants.
However, attention has recently returned to the issue of breast implant safety. While silicone, saline, and cohesive-gel implants are FDA-approved, the US Food & Drug Administration called a meeting of the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel earlier this month to discuss the benefits and risks of breast implants for use in breast augmentation and reconstruction.
This news caused many women to wonder if they should be concerned about their implants and if they are at risk for cancer or other illnesses.
Continue reading to learn the truth about breast implants.
What is Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)?
Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is an extremely rare cancer that has been linked to the use of textured breast implants. It involves the development of immune cells in the scar tissue that surrounds the breast implant.
What Causes BIA-ALCL?
Researchers have identified several contributing factors to BIA-ALCL. These include textured implants (anatomical and teardrop shaped), chronic inflammation, genetic predisposition, and time (it takes about 8 years for the condition to develop).
Why Are Women with Textured Breast Implants at Greater Risk for BIA-ALCL?
Textured implants feature a macrotextured or microtextured shell that surrounds the implant. Because these implants differ in granularity, they are more likely to serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.
Accordingly, many plastic surgeons have discontinued using textured breast implants. They find that the risk of BIA-ALCL far outweighs the benefits of this particular implant.
Should You Be Worried About Breast Implants and BIA-ALCL?
The good news is that BIA-ALCL is very rare. Researchers report a 1 in 82,000 risk associated with “microtexture” implants and a 1 in 3,200 risk with “macrotexture” implants. Additionally, there are no known cases of BIA-ALCL in women with smooth implants.
Plus, BIA-ALCL is highly treatable. 85% of cases of BIA-ALCL can be cured with surgical removal of the implant and surrounding scar tissue, while 15% required chemotherapy and radiation to address malignancy that has spread.
Finally, you should contact your doctor immediately if you note changes or have any concerns about your breast implants. Women considering breast augmentation, should ensure that their treatment is performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, abreast of the latest studies and FDA recommendations.