Breast implant safety has been making the news lately. The FDA recently concluded two day of hearings on the subject of breast implants, seeking panel recommendations on the issues informed consent, BIA-ALCL, and the rare but disturbing emergence of Breast Implants Illness or BII. Like any surgical procedure, breast augmentation is associated with certain risks. One of the specific risks associated with breast augmentation is the possibility of developing a rare type of cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Also known as BIA-ALCL, this is a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that affects the immune system. It should not be confused with breast cancer. BIA-ALCL is known to develop in the scar tissue and fluid surrounding the implant, but this cancer also may spread to other areas of the body. Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. B. Aviva Preminger wants to educate patients about the facts of BIA-ALCL so that patients considering breast augmentation can make an informed decision and so that patients who already have breast implants know the facts.
BIA-ALCL is a relatively recent form of cancer that was identified by the FDA
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined a possible link between implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) in 2011. The exact number of cases worldwide is not known with any significant accuracy, but based on available data BIA-ALCL develops most often with breast implants that have a textured surface rather than a smooth surface. Health organizations around the world are striving to educate both plastic surgeons and patients about the threats and dangers of this form of cancer.
Through September 30 of 2018, the FDA had identified 457 unique reports of BIA-ALCL. It is unknown whether these patients still had their original breast implants, or if they had their implants replaced one or more times.
Know the signs of BIA-ALCL
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL include pain in the breast, the formation of lumps, swelling, or the development of asymmetrical appearance in the breasts. Following your breast augmentation surgery, however, you may experience some swelling and pain, which is normal, but if these symptoms arise after you fully recover, contact Dr. Preminger for an evaluation.
Just because you have implants doesn’t mean you will develop BIA-ALCL
The current medical consensus does not recommend proactive removal of breast implants as a preventive measure in patients who are not showing any signs or symptoms of this type of lymphoma. In fact, if you already have breast implants and are not experiencing any symptoms associated with BIA-ALCL, you should proceed with your routine medical care and follow-ups as usual, which includes getting mammograms as recommended by your doctor.
The steps we take to educate our patients on BIA-ALCL
At Preminger Plastic Surgery, we will continue to provide routine follow-up care for any patient who receives breast implants.
In accordance with the current set of recommendations from the Plastic Surgery Foundation, Preminger Plastic Surgery adheres to the following guidelines with any of our patients who receive breast implants in Manhattan:
- We will provide each breast augmentation patient with complete labeling information on the implant manufacturer including educational material that explains the advantages and risks of all the different types of implants we use at our boutique practice on the Upper East Side.
- We will be especially vigilant for signs of BIA-ALCL when caring for any patient suffering from late-onset seroma.
- If testing for BIA-ALCL is needed, we will collect necessary samples for pathology testing.
- If BIA-ALCL is detected, we will work with your general physician and oncologist to compose an individualized treatment plan.
- Any detected cases of BIA-ALCL will be reported to the FDA, so that correct data on this form of lymphoma can continue to be gathered.
When it comes to ALCL, knowledge is your best defense
If you are interested in getting breast implants, it is important to have as much information as possible about all the different types of implants and the risks associated with each. At Preminger Plastic Surgery, Dr. Preminger has a one-on-one consultation with every patient. At this appointment, be sure to discuss the differences between textured and smooth surfaced implants, and the advantages and disadvantages associated with each type of implant.
After receiving your implants, be sure to follow any and all post-procedure instructions. If you notice any dramatic changes in your breasts such as pain, swelling, or the formation of lumps following your recovery, make an appointment as soon as possible to get checked.
Breast Implant Removal in New York City
Even if you aren’t seeing any signs of BIA-ALCL, remember that no breast implant is intended to last forever. The typical lifespan of an implant ranges between 10 and 25 years before replacement is necessary. Whether you are looking to have breast implants for the first time, or you think it’s time to have your implants removed or replaced, Dr. Preminger is here to serve patients in New York City including Manhattan and the Upper East Side. Schedule your initial consultation today at our boutique practice by calling (212) 706-1900.