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Breast Implant Associated ALCL (BIA-ALCL) – What Is It and What Does It Mean For Me?

Media from the offices of Broadway




There has recently been some concerns discussed regarding Breast Implant Associated- Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Here are some of the frequently asked questions and what it means for you.

What is BIA-ALCL?

BIA-ALCL is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the cells of the immune system, which can develop following breast implants. It is a rare and highly treatable type of lymphoma; it is not breast cancer. It can occur with either saline or gel breast implants, but recent evidence indicates that the condition is associated with textured implants. BIA-ALCL is usually found near the breast implant, in the fibrous scar capsule, and not in the breast tissue itself.

What are the symptoms of BIA-ALCL?

The main symptoms of BIA-ALCL are persistent swelling or pain in the vicinity of the breast implant. Other common symptoms include: asymmetry, lump in the breast or armpit, overlying skin rash, hardening of the breast, and evidence of fluid collection around the breast implant. Breast swelling is a common symptom immediately after an implant surgery, BIA-ALCL most commonly develops years after the procedure. Infections, implant ruptures, and changes in the capsule surrounding the implant, can cause breast swelling, so it is important to see your board-certified plastic surgeon as soon as possible if you notice swelling or other concerns related to your breasts.

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What are the risk factors for and how likely am I to develop BIA-ALCL?

BIA-ALCL is associated with textured implants. The texturing used on breast implants varies significantly between manufactures. The risk for BIA-ALCL is related to the type of texturing used on the implant. A more “aggressive” texturing has a higher risk for developing BIA-ALCL.   As a result, the risk for BIA-ALCL can vary significantly between the manufacturers.

There was a recent announcement that Allergan has voluntarily recalled BIOCELL® textured breast implants due to uncommon incidence of BIA-ALCL. To read the full company announcement as posted on the FDA’s website, click here.  

As of now, there have not been any confirmed cases of BIA-ALCL in women who have only smooth implants.

How can I be sure my breast implants are safe?

The best way to ensure your procedure is as low-risk as possible to choose an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon who can share the current data and risk profile for the implant you are considering . Your plastic surgeon should have a proven track record of successful patient outcomes and is prepared to perform your surgery with the highest regard for safety regulations and guidelines. No surgeon can guarantee that you will not develop BIA-ALCL or other complications, but with continued follow up and communication, all of your post-op concerns can be quickly addressed. Because BIA-ALCL has only been identified in patients with symptoms such as pain, lumps, or swelling after the surgical incision has fully healed, breast implant removal without symptoms is not recommended.

For additional information from the FDA, click here to see their FAQ page.

If you have additional questions or concerns about your breast implants, please schedule an appointment with a highly trained, board-certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Broadway.

Contact us online, call 303-680-8989 or email info@broadwaymd.com.

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