In light of Allergan’s voluntary recall of BIOCELL® textured implants and the recent focus on the possible link between a specific cancer known as BIA-ALCL and breast augmentation, San Francisco’s Jacobs Center for Cosmetic Surgery hopes to provide further clarification on the subject. One of the most common misconceptions about breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is that it’s a form of breast cancer, due to the fact that it develops in the breasts. In fact, BIA-ALCL is actually a type of cancer that affects the immune system.
This disease occurs in the fluid and scar tissue surrounding it, as opposed to the breast itself, but can become more severe and spread to other tissues if it is left untreated. Symptoms can appear years after the original breast surgery procedure and mainly include swelling, lumps, fluid accumulation, changes in breast shape, and pain around the breast implant area.
BIA-ALCL has only occurred in patients with textured—as opposed to smooth—implants, and the FDA has determined that patients who have certain textured implants have a higher risk of developing BIA-ALCL compared to others. However, this risk is very low overall and, as such, the FDA does not advise removing implants unless you are experiencing symptoms.
Doctors have identified means of lessening the risk of BIA-ALCL. Various modern surgical techniques used for breast augmentation have been shown to minimize common complications, such as capsular contracture (tightening and hardening of scar tissue around the implant capsule due to an immune response to foreign objects) and infections. One method for improving patient safety includes irrigation or washing of the recipient site with an antiseptic or antibiotic solution as a preparation agent during surgery. This is used to prevent implant surfaces from being contaminated with bacteria.
Considering that gram-negative bacteria are believed to be associated with the development of BIA-ALCL, research has shown that anti-microbial breast pocket irrigations containing betadine offer better protection than non-betadine alternatives against chronic inflammation and infections linked to this type of bacteria. Betadine, otherwise known as povidone-iodine (PVP-I), is a safe, effective, broad-spectrum antiseptic used to block bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and viruses.
The Jacobs Center for Cosmetic Surgery provides education on breast augmentation and related cosmetic body procedures to patients in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, and throughout San Francisco and beyond. Learn more about BIA-ALCL by calling 415.433.0303 or request a consultation.