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Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma

Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma

Recent warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) linking some breast implants with a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma have generated concern for women with breast implants and for the medical community. There is no cause for panic at this time, but it is important that all women who have, or have had breast implants, or are considering breast implants, inform themselves about the association of breast implants with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL).

In late January 2011, the FDA raised concerns about a link between breast implants and a rare form of lymphoma, called ALCL, a cancer of the cells of the immune system. Since FDA publicized the initial reports, many additional cases of breast implant associated ALCL or BIA-ALCL have been reported. Current data suggest that the risk of BIA-ALCL is highest for women who have, or who have had “textured” surface breast implants.

At the present time, reports in the medical literature estimate that BIA-ALCL may occur in roughly 1 in 3,000 to 1 in 30,000 women with textured breast implants. In comparison, without breast implants, the incidence of ALCL of the breast is only about 3 in 100,000,000 according to the FDA.

As of late 2018, the FDA advises the following:

  • Women should continue monitoring their implants and obtaining regular breast screening evaluations.
  • Women who see changes in the way the area around a breast implant looks or feels—including swelling, lumps or pain around the implant—should promptly see a physician for evaluation.
  • If a woman with breast implants has no symptoms, at this time, FDA is not recommending the routine removal of breast implants.
  • Continue routine MRI evaluation for “silent rupture” if you have silicone-filled implants.

Based upon the best currently available data, we believe that women opting for breast implants either for cosmetic or reconstructive purposes, should strongly consider using only smooth-surface tissue expanders and implants. The surgeons of the Advanced Reconstructive Surgery Group feel so strongly about this, that we have abandoned the use of textured tissue expanders and textured breast implants in our practice.


Women considering breast implants should inform themselves about BIA-ALCL and weigh the risks, the uncertainty, and the potential benefits of breast implants for themselves.