Breast Implant Safety
Recently, two types of cancer have been found to be associated with breast implants. They are BIA-ALCL, which stands for Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma and BIA-SCC, which stands for Breast Implant-Associated Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
BIA-ALCL is a very uncommon cancer that has only been found in patients with breast implants with rough outer surfaces, known as textured implants. BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer. Instead, it is located in the scar tissue that naturally forms around the implant, called a capsule. When diagnosed and treated early, BIA-ALCL is curable. However, in some cases, when the initial diagnosis is made, the disease has spread to the armpit lymph nodes or other parts of the body. There have been deaths associated with BIA-ALCL, but these events were associated with delayed diagnosis and delayed or improper treatment.
The incidence of BIA-ALCL is about 1 in 30,000 patients. It is important to remember that there are no reported cases of BIA-ALCL in patients with smooth implants.
In September 2022, the FDA issued a safety communication about Breast Implant-Associated Squamous Cell Carcinoma (BIA-SCC). BIA-SCC is not breast cancer. It is found in the scar capsule that surrounds the breast implant. This cancer is not unique to breast implants. Similar associated cancers have been found with other implanted devices. As of September 8, 2022, there have been only 16 reported cases of BIA-SCC worldwide. It is important to know that the FDA DOES NOT recommend any changes in your routine breast care.
Know The Symptoms
The symptoms for BIA-ALCL and BIA-SCC are very similar. Symptoms included unexplained breast enlargement, pain, asymmetry, a lump in the breast or armpit, an overlying skin rash, or hardening of the breast. These symptoms typically occur many years after implants have been placed (8-10 years with BIA-ALCL and 15-40 years after BIA-SCC). It is crucial to see your doctor right away for evaluation if you notice any of these or other changes to your breasts.
BII- Breast Implant Illness
Breast Implant Illness or BII is the name for a broad cluster of symptoms that may be attributed to breast implants. These can include joint or muscle pain or weakness, memory and concentration problems, chronic pain, fatigue, and migraines. Researchers have not established a causal link between these symptoms and breast implants. Many other diseases have similar symptoms to BII, but some patients report improvement when their implants are removed.
While the incidence of BIA-ALCL, BIA-SCC, and BII are very rare, they can be cause for concern. Drs. Butler, Leveque, and Patterson want all their patients who receive breast implants to be aware of the associated risk. In order to make sure you are comfortable with your decision to have breast implants placed, your surgeon will review a product-specific Patient Decision Checklist with you, and make sure you fully understand the benefits and risks of breast implants.
Likewise, Drs. Butler, Leveque, and Patterson recommend screening your breast implants with MRI or ultrasound beginning at five to six year after silicone implants and every three to five years thereafter. It is also important to perform regular breast self-exams and get regular mammograms after age forty, or as directed by your primary care provider.
I Have Breast Implants But I Am Concerned
It was your decision to have breast implants placed, and it is your decision to have them removed. Drs. Butler, Leveque, and Patterson respect and support your decision. The risk of developing BIA-ALCL, BIA-SCC is exceedingly small, but Drs. Butler, Leveque, and Patterson understand that it might be a risk you are unwilling to take.
If you are experiencing symptoms related to BII, we recommend that you see your primary care provider to rule out inflammatory or autoimmune diseases that could be causing your issues. However, tests aren’t always conclusive, and you may decide to have your implants removed in the hopes that your symptoms will resolve.
Drs. Butler, Leveque, and Patterson will explain the breast implant and scar capsule removal processes so that you have a clear understanding of what is involved. Gulf Coast Plastic Surgery’s goal is to provide you with the best medical care possible in a compassionate environment.
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