Risk of Textured Implants and Large Cell Lymphoma

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This past summer, global pharmaceutical company Allergan recalled textured implants it makes due to the reported links to large cell lymphoma cancer doctors refer to as BIA-ALCL. BIA-ALCL is a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that develops in the scar tissue that forms after a breast augmentation procedure

According to the FDA, there were 481 cases of BIA-ALCL linked to Allergan’s textured implants. Out of the 13 reported deaths, 12 of the individuals had selected Allergan’s implants for their breast augmentation surgery.1

Part of the issue with the textured implants and cancer is the BIA-ALCL is not discovered for years after the augmentation surgery. It can go undetected until symptoms present, which could include:

  • Swollen Breasts
  • Lumps in the Breast Tissue
  • Breast Soreness
  • Rash on the Breasts
  • Hardening of the Breast Tissue
  • Fluid Retention in the Breasts

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to schedule an examination with your physician or plastic surgeon. 

Do the Textured Implants Need to Be Removed?

Currently, even with the recall on the affected textured implants, the FDA has not recommended the removal of the Allergan implants.1 However, it is recommended that any individuals who choose Allergan implants for their breast augmentation procedure have an annual exam to ensure there are no signs of BIA-ALCL. 

BIA-ALCL is treatable by removing the infected scar tissue and the textured implant should it develop. It is also worth noting that BIA-ALCL is a very rare type of cancer and not many women will develop it. Yet, some women are choosing to have their Allergan implants removed regardless. They do not want to have to worry about the possible risk of the textured implants leading to BIA-ALCL. 

How Prevalent Are the Textured Implants and Cancer in the U.S.?

The use of textured implants is not that common in the U.S. The FDA reported that textured implants only account for “10% of all breast implants sold in the United States.”1 Most women in the U.S. choose smooth breast implants or “gummy bear” implants. 

Both of these implants do not have the textured shell that has been identified as the cause of the cancer. Instead, they have a smooth shell around the filler, which is either saline or silicone.

Surgeon holding silicone impla

What Is the Treatment for BIA-ALCL?

If you are diagnosed with BIA-ALCL, the first step is to determine whether the cancer is still isolated in the scar tissue in the breasts or if it has spread to other areas of the body. The location of the cancer will determine the appropriate treatment. 

If the cancer has not spread and is just in the scar tissue, then the affected scar tissue and breast implant can be removed. The re-occurrence of BIA-ALCL is also very rare after the cancer has been removed from the breast tissue. 

In cases where BIA-ALCL has spread, your oncologist will discuss different treatment options, such as radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. After treatment and confirmation that the cancer is no longer present, you will be closely monitored for at least the next two years. 

If you have further concerns about your textured implants and cancer , please feel free to contact the JW Plastic Surgery Center in Baton Rouge at 225-320-5353 to schedule a consultation appointment today! After meeting with Dr. John Williams, he will answer your questions and explain your options.



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