Textured breast implants made by the producer Allergan are being recalled in the United States at the request of the Food and Drug Administration. Textured implants have already been banned in Europe, and the company has now halted production worldwide.
Breast implants are the most common type of cosmetic surgery in the United States, and they are becoming more and more popular. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 300,000 women in the US went under the knife for breast enlargement in 2017. That number is up 3% from 2016. An additional 100,000 received implants during reconstructive surgery after mastectomy for breast cancer.
Unfortunately, textured breast implants made by Allergan have been linked to almost 500 cancer cases worldwide.
Having already been banned in Europe last year, the implants now being recalled in the US and worldwide. The type of cancer connected to the implants is called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. It is not actually breast cancer, but a rare cancer of the immune system. The cancer is found not found in the breast tissue, but near the breast implant. It is either in the fluid surrounding the implant or within the fibers of the scar capsule around it.
The FDA pushed for the recall after 481 out of 573 cancer cases were clearly attributed to Allergan Biocell implant. 33 of the 573 cases resulted in death. Out of those 33 deaths, the type of implant was known in 13 cases. In 12 of those cases, the maker was Allergan.
Although Allergan will halt production of its textured breast implants, women who already have them do not need to have them removed. According to the FDA, the risk is low. However, women with textured breast implants should watch for symptoms like swelling and fluid accumulation around the implant. If they notice either of these, the fluid should be drained and tested for cancer.
Doctors and hospitals should not implant any more of the implants, and they should return them to Allergan. Researchers have not yet been able to explain the connection between the textured implants and they type of cancer linked to them.