Breast Implants in the News: What Does It Really Mean?

By: James Nachbar, MD, FACS


On July 24, 2019, both the FDA and Allergan, one of the large manufacturers of breast implants, announced that Allergan will institute a world-wide recall of certain breast implants that they have made due to concerns about a type of cancer that is associated with those implants. Naturally, this raises the concern among women with breast implants as to whether they should be worried that they are at risk.

This problem is not news. We have known for years that a type of cancer, anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL), has been associated, albeit rarely, with textured breast implants. This is not breast cancer, but rather a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a cancer of the immune system. It is also not common: of the millions of women with breast implants, there have only been 573 cases of breast implant-associated ALCL (BIA ALCL) from around the world, and only 33 deaths attributed to BIA ALCL. But even that is 33 too many.

This risk, albeit small, is the reason I have not used textured breast implants for years. All of the research that has been done on BIA ALCL has suggested that it only occurs in patients who have had textured breast implants, and it is not seen with the smooth breast implants that I use, and that I have used for years.

Dr. Nachbar

So, should you be concerned? If you have breast implants and have not seen your plastic surgeon for years, should you check with your plastic surgeon? Absolutely!! Although most women with breast implants go years, or even decades, without seeing their plastic surgeons, I have always thought that it is wise for women with breast implants to be evaluated every three or four years, even if they are not having any problems. That is why I am happy to see any woman with breast implants, whether I placed them or not, without charge, to ensure that they have the benefit of all of the information we have learned about breast implants through the years.

Also, while many physicians destroy their records after seven years, the legal requirement for record retention, I have never done that, and I still have over 99% of all the records and photographs from my plastic surgery practice since I started in Scottsdale in 1995. So, if I did your surgery, I will almost certainly still have your records.

If you have breast implants, if you have questions about breast implants, or if you have questions about any type of plastic surgery, call our office at 480-289-5300 to make an appointment for your complementary evaluation. We look forward to seeing you!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.