Patient Update: What Does the Recent Breast Implant Device Withdrawal Mean?

Last month, many people with breast implants awoke to headlines that made them understandably concerned. Allergan, a prominent manufacturer of several types of breast implants, announced that they were voluntarily withdrawing (or recalling) their textured devices worldwide. What does this mean for women who have or were planning to get textured breast implants? To help our patients (as well as anyone else out there who might be concerned) understand the situation, we’re discussing the facts of this product withdrawal for this week’s blog.

Women have several choices when it comes to breast implants, and one of those choices is between smooth or textured devices. There are advantages and potential disadvantages to each type of implant, and which one is right for any given patient depends on a number of factors specific to that patient. Of the approximately 300,000 breast augmentations and 150,000 breast reconstructions performed annually in the United States, less than 12% involve textured implants. If you’re part of the other 88%, Allergan’s withdrawal of textured implants doesn’t affect you. But even if you’ve received textured implants as part of a breast surgery procedure, you most likely have nothing to worry about.

The first and perhaps most important thing to understand about this voluntary withdrawal is that it’s largely a precaution. In a tiny number of cases, textured implants have been linked to a very rare type of immune-system cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Of the millions of women worldwide who currently have breast implants, only a few hundred have developed symptoms of BIA-ALCL. While any amount of increased cancer risk tied to breast implants is potentially cause for concern, the link identified here is not likely to affect you. To hear more, watch this video that one of our plastic surgeons, Dr. James Namnoum, made when the news broke:

Another extremely important thing to remember is that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend removing textured implants in patients without symptoms of BIA-ALCL. Symptoms of BIA-ALCL include noticeable swelling of the breast from fluid around the implant, pain, and a chest wall mass or lump. However, fluid around implants is often normal and can occur in large amounts without being associated with BIA-ALCL. Because the risk of developing BIA-ALCL is so small, removal or replacement surgery may not be worth it for the vast majority of patients. However, women with pain or swelling around their implant site, or anything else abnormal, should be examined by their doctors.

If you have any concern at all about your implants after hearing about this product withdrawal, we urge you to see your plastic surgeon or doctor for an evaluation. Even if you have no symptoms, it may still provide some valuable peace of mind. Studies such as an MRI or high-resolution ultrasound may be useful to gain additional information. You always have the choice to have your textured implants surgically swapped out for smooth implants, or to have them removed altogether, but just know that this is not recommended, and that additional surgery always carries some additional risk, however small. We do not believe that there’s any reason to be alarmed about this news, but monitoring your breast health and overall wellbeing is always a good idea.


If you have any questions about this device withdrawal, or about any of the procedures we perform, contact Atlanta Plastic Surgery at one of our Atlanta-area offices today to schedule an appointment today. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter for the latest plastic surgery news, and to check back often for new blogs.