The following information answers many common questions possibly related to breast implants. And remember: Your plastic surgeon is your partner throughout your augmentation or reconstruction.
Whether you want to know more about these or about any other possible complications, ask your plastic surgeon for additional information and the answers to your specific questions.
After surgery, your body begins to naturally surround the implant with a layer of scar tissue. This scar is called a “capsule” because it encapsulates the implant.
In some patients, the capsule can thicken and tighten around the implant—that is capsular contracture. It can cause the breast to feel hard, look misshapen, and can be painful.
Is capsular contracture treatable?Yes, it is treatable, often requiring an additional procedure. Your plastic surgeon can discuss this with you in more detail. Please know that revisions for capsular contracture using modern techniques are available.
What else should I know about capsular contracture?It is one of the most common reasons for reoperation, and is also a risk factor for rupture. Your plastic surgeon can offer advice on ways to reduce the chance of developing capsular contracture.
A rupture is a tear or hole in the breast implant shell.
Some possible causes of rupture are:
The longer implants are in place, the higher the chance of rupture.
Is BIA-ALCL breast cancer?
BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer. It is a very rare and treatable type of lymphoma that has been associated with textured breast implants. Breast implants are available with either a smooth surface or a textured surface. If you are unsure whether you have a smooth or textured implant, ask your plastic surgeon.
What are the symptoms—and when do they typically start?
BIA-ALCL, on average, presents about 8 years after surgery. The first symptoms are usually a swelling of the breast—often caused by fluid building up around the implant. Other symptoms can include pain, lumps, and unevenness between breasts.
How is BIA-ALCL treated?
BIA-ALCL can be treated, often successfully. In most cases, the breast implant and surrounding scar capsule are removed. Additional treatment may be necessary.
How often does it occur?
The FDA estimates that there are 5 million to 10 million women worldwide who have breast implants. The incidence of BIA-ALCL is rare, occurring in about 0.003% of women in the US with textured implants.*
Were there any deaths attributed to BIA-ALCL?
Since BIA-ALCL was first reported about 20 years ago, there have been 12 known deaths.
What are the findings in textured implants?
Of the cases reported to date, it is believed that all of the women had textured implants at some point in their implant journey.
Should I still consider a textured implant?
Some implant types, such as anatomically shaped implants, are only available with a textured surface. Plastic surgeons have varying reasons for selecting a textured implant. Discuss this point with your own plastic surgeon since every woman is different and has different needs.
What should I do if I already have breast implants?
If you are not experiencing any problems, the FDA does not recommend removal of the implants or any changes to your routine medical care since BIA-ALCL is rare.
It makes good sense to monitor your breast implants. Make sure they feel normal and do not have any issues. If you have silicone breast implants, the FDA recommends that you have regular MRI screenings as part of your routine care: 3 years after surgery, then every 2 years thereafter.
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