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EXTRA – Safety Concerns about Breast Implants

Safety Concerns about Breast Implants

There’s been a lot of news about a link between breast implants and a rare incidence of cancer, which has led to a medical company having one of its products, a textured implant, pulled off the shelf. In response, the UK’s leading independent plastic surgery association, of which Mr Anthony MacQuillan is a member of, has released a statement.

Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a very rare type of lymphoma which may be caused by implants. We say ‘may’, because as of yet there has been no proven link between it and implant insertion.

The main symptoms of BIA-ALCL include excessive fluid build-up around the implant, which can cause pain, swelling or lumps in the breast or armpit. These symptoms tend to occur from between three and 14 years after the fitting of the implant.

The good news is that BIA-ALCL is a rare condition – and eminently treatable. In their statement, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) pointed out that current research suggests the risk of developing this condition in the UK is approximately 1 in 24,000 breast implants sold.

To date, BIA-ALCL has only occurred in patients with a textured implant.

What are textured implants?

Currently, breast augmentation patients in the UK can choose between smooth and textured breast implants. There are three main differences between these implants. Firstly, there is less movement with the textured implants because the surface composition means it ‘grips’ to the body’s tissues. They can feel firmer because the outer shell is thicker – although when placed in the body, particularly under the muscle, it is unlikely you’d notice any difference. And, finally, there is less risk of capsular contracture occurring with textured implants which is why they have been such a popular choice.

For this reason, the majority of breast implants now used in the UK have textured surfaces, and according to all the latest scientific data these remain safe – and there is no medical reason for any woman to consider removing or replacing them.

All major breast implant manufacturers produce a textured implant and it is only one particular brand which is in the spotlight. The Allergan-produced Natrelle implants which have a Biocell textured surface have been flagged up by the EU regulators.

As of November of last year, all implants featuring Biocell lost the right to be used in Europe, meaning that these implants are simply not available to surgeons from 2019 – and BAAPS has instructed its registered surgeons (which includes us) not to use the product.

Should you be concerned about implant safety?

If you have had implant surgery and are worried you may be carrying a Biocell textured implant, BAAPS advises that you needn’t worry, as there is no need to remove or exchange any current implants based on the most up-to-date scientific data available. As a matter of fact, they stress that unnecessary replacement surgery may cause additional harm in a small number of patients.

They are also keen to point out that the removal of Biocell textured surface implants is a precautionary step taken by the regulators, whilst the link between breast implant surface and BIA-ALCL becomes clear, and advise any clients with new symptoms – such as swelling or pain – to contact their implant surgeon for specific advice. If there is no swelling or pain, they should discuss any concerns when they make their next routine appointment.

Bottom line: as in all surgical procedures, breast implant side-effects are a very rare occurrence, but the chances of them happening are always taken with the utmost seriousness by professional and reputable clinics such as ours. Mr Anthony MacQuillan will always discuss the risks in depth with you during the consultation period, and we will also be on hand if you have any questions after surgery.