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What Are The Current Risk Factors Associated With BIA-ALCL?

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Whether used for breast augmentation or reconstruction, patients may be wary of getting breast implant surgery after hearing about breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). As a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Phillip Dauwe emphasizes the importance of patient education so individuals understand every part of their procedure, including the benefits and risks of plastic surgery.

At Phillip Dauwe, M.D. Plastic Surgery, our top procedures include breast augmentation with implants, breast lifts, and breast revisions. Using advanced technology and tools, we can help create the most natural-looking and beautiful results possible. We also take the time to address BIA-ALCL and answer any questions you may have. Dr. Dauwe invites you to learn more about the current risk factors associated with BIA-ALCL at our Dallas, TX, clinic so you can feel confident about your upcoming cosmetic procedure. 

Get the facts about BIA-ALCL

Some patients mistakenly label BIA-ALCL as breast cancer. In fact, breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. BIA-ALCL is mainly found in the scar tissue near the implant but can spread throughout the body. Though your risk of developing BIA-ALCL as a result of breast implants is very low, it is a serious condition that must be treated right away. 

BIA-ALCL normally presents itself in the form of swelling due to an accumulation of fluid. This condition may also present as a lump at the surgery site, sometimes appearing years after your implant procedure. In most cases, BIA-ALCL is treated successfully by removing the implant and surrounding scar tissue through surgery. Those with advanced cases may also require chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

FDA findings about BIA-ALCL

Breast implants are still approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a method of breast augmentation since the risk of BIA-ALCL is still small and inconclusive. Since BIA-ALCL is such a rare occurrence, there are some aspects of this cancer that are not fully known. Through research and funding, the FDA seeks to create a more complete picture of BIA-ALCL to keep health care professionals and patients informed. 

The FDA first identified a potential association between breast implants and the development of ALCL in 2011. After evaluating the data, the FDA reports that the risk of getting BIA-ALCL is higher for patients with textured implants versus smooth. Before you have breast implant surgery, you may want to speak with Dr. Dauwe about the benefits and risks of textured versus smooth breast implants. When it comes to choosing silicone or saline implants, however, the implant fill does not appear to be a risk factor. At this time, it is not possible to test for a person’s risk of getting BIA-ALCL. 

Based on the available data, the FDA recommends that health care providers furnish patients with routine care and continued support. They will continue to collect and evaluate information related to BIA-ALCL in individuals with breast implants. In the meantime, if you experience distressing symptoms or physical changes in your breasts as a result of breast augmentation surgery or breast reconstruction, the FDA suggests speaking with your healthcare provider for further evaluation. This involves a physical exam, an assessment of the surrounding tissue, and medical imaging to properly diagnose BIA-ALCL. Once there is a confirmed diagnosis, patients can begin the process of implant removal through surgery. 

Risks associated with BIA-ALCL

Before we cover the risks of plastic surgery and BIA-ALCL in Dallas, patients should first understand how rare this condition is. It is estimated that out of the tens of millions of women around the world who have received implants, very few patients are diagnosed with this form of lymphoma each year. The symptoms to watch out for are pain, persistent swelling, or a mass in the area of the breast implant. Symptoms may occur years after the implant has been placed. 

All patients considering breast implant surgery should be aware of the risks associated with breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma. While the exact cause is unknown, the risk seems to increase for patients with textured implants. Possible contributing factors include the body’s reaction to bacteria that form on the implant’s textured surface. There seems to be no difference in the risk among those who receive implants for breast augmentation surgery or reconstructive surgery.

Patients who do not experience any swelling or lumps following breast augmentation should continue to perform regular checks on their breasts. Mammograms should also be performed as recommended on a preventive basis. At Phillip Dauwe, M.D. Plastic Surgery, we believe there is no reason to get implants removed if there are no issues. For more questions about BIA-ALCL and the risks involved, please feel free to reach out to a member of our staff to schedule a consultation. 

Tour our Dallas facility 

If you are concerned about the complications and risks of plastic surgery, including breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, we welcome you to visit Phillip Dauwe, M.D. Plastic Surgery in Dallas, TX. As a specialist in aesthetic surgery, Dr. Dauwe takes plenty of time to address each patient’s questions and concerns before designing a personalized treatment plan. With his artistic skill and experience performing a wide range of surgeries, he has helped transform the lives of numerous women seeking breast augmentation. 

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.