If you are like me, as well as many dear friends and colleagues at Unite for HER, your head is spinning right now.

Your mind may be filled with questions and major concerns about what you have heard in the news, trying to digest all of the information and figure out what you should do. You are not alone

At Unite for HER, we are committed to being a trusted resource for the community of women we serve. We have built our programming around ways to become educated and empowered during a time when one feels paralyzed and defeated. The latest news on textured implants has caused confusion and led to many questions related to patient safety and potential risks. Here we hope to clarify recent events and address common questions.

The Facts

On July 23, 2019, Allergan, a leading manufacturer of breast implants, announced a recall of their textured implants “as a precaution following notification of information concerning the uncommon incidence of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma.” As of July 2019, 573 cases of Breast Implant Associated– Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma were reported globally. This action by Allergan was taken in response to evidence connecting the impacts to a rare, but real, diagnosis of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a type of non-
Hodgkin lymphoma.

To be clear, the FDA does not recommend that people who currently have the textured implants have them removed unless there are symptoms or problems.

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

According to the National Institute of Health, Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL, is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that targets the lymph and immune system. It is not a form of breast cancer.

What are the symptoms of BIA-ALCL?

  • The main symptoms are swelling or pain in the area of the implant, which may occur years after the implant was placed.
  • A fluid-like lump (seroma) is often observed under the skin.

What is the risk of occurrence?

The risk is extremely low. Understand that most cases of BIA-ALCL occur many years after breast implant placement. The average is 8 years. Talk to your surgeon about your risk of developing BIA-ALCL

What Steps Can I Take?

  1. Please Don’t Panic. Emotional stress can cause physical symptoms. Education from medical professionals will help to clarify your thinking and help you to understand the best next steps.
  2. Identify your Implant- Is it Textured? Contact your plastic surgeon.
    It is important for you to set up a consultation (either via phone or in person) to understand and evaluate the risks in partnership with a health care professional. 

    Note: If your physician does not feel it is necessary to give you time
    about this recall and the findings on BIA-ALCL, find a physician who will. 

  3. Listen to your Voice. Taking action is a very personal decision. With the guidance of a medical professional, patients have options on how to move forward.
  4. Know YOUR body. We talk often about knowing your body. It is important to monitor breast implants and follow-up with your plastic surgeon for appropriate checkups.

We at Unite for HER will continue to monitor any new findings, with your emotional and physical wellness being our top priority.

With support always,

The Team at Unite for HER

We thank Sameer A. Patel MD FACS, Program Director at Temple University Hospital Plastic Surgery Residency, for his commitment to the continued education of our community through this prepared article. To read his article, click here.