I recently wrote about a certain type of cancer associated with breast implants, known as Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
As medicine is always changing, it is important to stay up to date on new developments.
This past week one of the major manufacturers of textured breast implants (Allergan) has decided to suspend production of its BioCell textured tissue expanders and implants.
This morning, Allergan agreed to provide assistance for patients who would like to prophylactically remove textured implants and switch to smooth implants. Allergan will provide the smooth implants for FREE, but will not cover the surgical, anesthesia, or facility fees.
If you have had a tissue expander or implant placed, it is important to reach out to your plastic surgeon to determine the type of device you have and to be examined if you have any concerns. Here are some fast facts to keep in mind:
There have been less than 600 cases of BIA-ALCL reported to date. It is estimated that between 5 – 10 million women have breast implants worldwide. Allergan is not the only breast implant manufacturer. There are currently no recalls on Mentor, Sientra, or Ideal implants.
Currently, neither the FDA nor any Plastic Surgery Society recommends that women should preventatively remove textured breast implants to prevent BIA-ALCL. This is not a disease of breast tissue, rather it is related to the texturing of the implant device.
It is important to perform self-breast exams and look for changes in your breasts. Symptoms associated with BIA-ALCL include swelling of the breast, often caused by fluid building around the implant. Other symptoms include pain, lumps, and asymmetry between breasts.
BIA-ALCL is not the same as Breast Implant Illness (BII). BIA-ALCL is (at this time) thought to be specifically related to the texturing of the implant device. Though not a disease, BII has recently gained credibility. So much so that the FDA has incorporated the patient-coined term into its website among cautions about implants, citing "systemic symptoms" as one potential risk, although "what causes them are poorly understood."