25 July 2019
Textured breast implants and tissue expanders made by Allergan are being recalled from sale globally.
These implants have been linked to anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL), which is a rare cancer of the immune system. It is not breast cancer, but can develop adjacent to a breast implant. In most cases, removing the implant and the capsule around it cures the disease. The main symptoms patients should be aware of are an unusual swelling and/or fluid accumulation in the breast or around the implant. If any of these symptoms occur please see your Specialist Plastic Surgeon. Your surgeon knows the details of your implants and will assess you and if appropriate perform tests which may include a biopsy or draining the fluid and sending it for specific testing. A delay in diagnosis has been shown to have poorer long term outcomes.
ALCL has occurred associated with implants placed both for cosmetic breast enlargement and with those used for reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer. It has also occurred in implants that are filled with silicone or saline. Whilst there are several hypotheses, why this texturing leads to cancer in some patients is not known.
The lymphoma is rare, given that millions of women have breast implants.
Women who have these implants, but no symptoms, do not need to have them removed. The recall means that doctors and hospitals should not implant any more of the devices and should return any on their shelves to Allergan.
“Patient safety is a priority for Allergan,” the company said in a statement, “and patients are advised to speak with their plastic surgeon about the risk and benefits of their implant type should they have any concerns.”
Although several companies make textured implants, a great majority of the lymphoma cases have occurred in women with the Allergan products and the Australian Society of Plastic Surgery supports their withdrawal from the market.