Recently, under advisement from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Allergan corporation voluntarily withdrew (recalled) their textured breast implants from the market. What does this mean? First of all, you need to know what a textured-wall implant is. A textured-wall device has a rough surface and is used in about 12% of breast surgeries annually. Smooth-walled implants, on the other hand, have a smooth surface and are far more common. They both have silicone gel on the outside and silicone gel on the inside, but it’s important to remember that this recent product withdrawal only applies to the less common textured implants. It’s also important to understand that, even if you currently have textured breast implants, the chances that you will have any related health issues are quite remote. I further explain some of the most important points about this news in this video:
What this device withdrawal means is that certain implants, like highly textured devices, can be associated with a very rare condition called breast-implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Though not necessarily malignant, this condition can potentially become a malignancy. Fortunately, BIA-ALCL is extremely rare. A doctor can diagnose this condition if a patient has a lot of swelling or fluid around an implant that has been in place for some years, and/or the patient has considerable pain or a chest-wall mass or lump. Please be aware that fluid around implants is often normal and that fluid can occur in large amounts and not be associated with BIA-ALCL. If you do not have these symptoms, it’s likely that your implants are doing fine and that you have nothing to worry about. Bear in mind that there are millions of women all over the world who have textured-wall devices, either from breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgery, the vast majority of whom will never develop this exceedingly rare syndrome.
If you would like to be evaluated, please go and see your doctor. By all means, doctors need to see their patients, evaluate them, and reassure them that they’re doing fine. There are radiographic tests, such as an MRI or high-resolution ultrasound, which can be used to evaluate the implant and surrounding tissue to see if there’s any fluid around the implant. If you have none of these issues, you are likely fine, and will continue to be fine. However, monitoring is appropriate and necessary, no matter what the texture of your implants happens to be.
If you can’t sleep at night because you’re worried that you’re going to have a problem with your textured-wall device, you always have the option of having your textured implant removed or exchanged for a smooth one. Bear in mind, however, that the FDA does not recommend removing textured implants in patients without symptoms of BIA-ALCL. Again, symptoms of BIA-ALCL include noticeable swelling of the breast from fluid around the implant, pain, and a chest wall mass or lump. Furthermore, there are risks to surgery, however small, and there may be some risk to changing your implants around as well. All-in-all, we want you to be well informed. We want you to speak with your doctor or other healthcare professionals to get the best, most credible information possible.
If you have further questions about this issue, or if there’s anything else my office can help you with, please contact me, Dr. Jim Namnoum, to schedule a meeting today. Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and to come back to the blog soon for more advice, information, and updates.