Is It Prudent to Remove Your Textured Surface Implants Over BIA-ALCL Concerns?
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Since the FDA’s press release regarding the voluntary recall of Allergan’s BIOCELL® textured surfaced implants due to a rare association with BIA-ALCL, many women with these implants have given some thought about either removing them or undergoing an implant exchange using smooth surfaced ones instead. This is in spite of the fact that they are not experiencing any issues.
Having concerns about BIA-ALCL is quite understandable. However, would the removal or exchange of these implants be a reasonable or prudent choice for you?
What Is the Allergan™ Implant Recall Regarding?
In July 2019, the FDA (in partner with Allergan™) released a statement informing patients of a potential link between BIOCELL® textured implants and breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
BIA-ALCL is a form of lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) that can potentially develop in the capsule (scar tissue) surrounding the breast implant. It is essential to note that this is not breast cancer, but instead a treatable concern involving this scar tissue. Though it is relatively rare and has been seen with textured surface implants from different manufacturers, the vast majority of cases are associated with the BIOCELL® textured implants.
Should I Be Concerned About BIA-ALCL?
While a cancer risk should never be disregarded or treated lightly, there is no reason for panic even if you have BIOCELL® implants. The overwhelming majority of women with these will never develop this disease. Furthermore, when diagnosed and treated relatively early, virtually all are cured.
What Are the FDA Recommendations?
As of now, the FDA is not advising women to remove their implants unless they experience signs of the condition. The most common symptoms of BIA-ALCL include acute enlargement in the size of one breast (rarely, both sides), persistent pain or an abdominal mass that can be felt. Sometimes, a routine mammogram or ultrasound will be the first sign of the issue—though this is not very common.
Why Shouldn’t I Remove My Textured Implants?
It is understandable to be concerned about your breast implants after learning about BIA-ALCL. While you should monitor your implants and breasts for any changes in their look or feel, removing non-problematic implants may not be the best idea.
Implant Removal Is an Additional Surgery
While breast revision surgery is a safe and common procedure for women looking to remove or exchange their breast implants, it is still surgery, and any additional surgery comes with risks, such as infection, bleeding, scarring, capsular contracture, and negative reactions to the anesthesia.
Additional Breast Procedures Result in More Scarring
In the best case scenario, breast revision can utilize your previous breast augmentation or breast reconstruction incision. This, however, may not always be the case for a few reasons—leading potentially to more scarring on your breast.
Implant Removal Requires Downtime
Just like your breast augmentation surgery or breast reconstruction, breast revision surgery involves downtime. This may include time away from work, school, exercises, or even from your daily routine or responsibilities at home.
Implant Revision Comes With an Additional Financial Cost
The cost of secondary breast surgery is not included in the price of your breast augmentation. If your implants are as a consequence of breast reconstruction, usually there will also be some cost to you, whether it is a surgical co-pay or deductible.
It’s Ultimately Your Decision
Ultimately, it is your decision, based on several factors, as to whether to leave things as they are or proceed either with an explantation or implant exchange.
For more information on the above, you can also read Important Information About Allergan’s Textured Surface Breast Implant Recall and
So You Have an Allergan Textured Surfaced Implant. Now What? on our main website.
Want to Know More About Breast Revision?
Since complications can arise with your implants at any time, be sure to monitor their health with yearly MRIs or ultrasounds of the breasts.