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BIA-ALCL and Textured Breast Implants

In recent months, there has been important news about a condition called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This is a rare form of cancer that’s been linked to breast augmentation surgery using textured implants.

While BIA-ALCL is curable and not common, it’s important to us that all of our patients be aware of the risks that are involved.

Dr. Mark Deuber would like to consider some of the essential information about BIA-ALCL, including the symptoms of the condition. We can discuss these matters with you in more detail during a consultation at our Dallas, TX plastic surgery center.

What Is Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)?

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare spectrum of disorders that affects people with textured breast implants. The cancer does not affect the breast tissue itself.

During BIA-ALCL, a benign fluid may accumulate around the implant (a seroma), or the patient may develop a rare type of lymphoma.

Since BIA-ALCL was first reported almost 20 years ago, studies have identified 414 cases of the condition. BIA-ALCL has resulted in 16 deaths in that time.

Signs and Symptoms of BIA-ALCL

The most common signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL are:

  • Breast swelling
  • Breast pain
  • Formation of a lump on the breasts
  • Firmness or hardness of the breasts

When Do Symptoms Usually Appear?

Symptoms of BIA-ALCL typically appear around eight years after the breast augmentation procedure. That said, symptoms have been known to arise as early as two years after surgery and as late as 28 years after surgery.

The Link to Textured Breast Implants

Research has noted that the condition is only associated with textured breast implants. Patients with smooth breast implants have so far not developed BIA-ALCL. The filling of the implant (i.e., silicone or saline) does not affect the risk for BIA-ALCL.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery created a grading system to determine a patient’s BIA-ALCL risk. The higher the grade, the more textured the implant surface:

  • Grade 1 (Smooth Implants) – Zero risk of BIA-ALCL
  • Grade 2 (e.g. Microtexture, Siltex) – 1 in 82,000 risk of BIA-ALCL
  • Grade 3 (e.g. Macrotexture, Biocell) – 1 in 3,200 risk of BIA-ALCL
  • Grade 4 (e.g. Polyurethane) – 1 in 2,800 risk of BIA-ALCL

Is BIA-ALCL Treatable?

Yes. If BIA-ALCL is caught early, it can be successfully treated and cured. This is why it’s so important to be mindful of any changes to the appearance or sensation of your breasts.

What Should I Do If I Currently Have Textured Breast Implants?

If you currently have textured breast implants, continue to monitor your breasts for lumps or soreness. Should you experience further concerns about having textured implants, be sure to discuss them with your doctor or your plastic surgeon.

Learn More about Breast Augmentation

For more information about breast augmentation and whether or not it’s right for you, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic plastic surgeon. Dr. Deuber will be more than happy to answer your questions and address your concerns.

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