Stay Vigilant: Breast Implants and BIA-ALCL


For many men and women across the United States, cosmetic surgery is the most efficient and direct way to achieve the body appearance they have always wanted. Women, especially, turn to cosmetic surgery to permanently alter their appearance to be more in line with their ideal body type. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ 2019 report, breast augmentation has remained the most popular procedure since 2006 with nearly 300,000 women nationwide opting for breast augmentation in 2019 alone. Despite its popularity, however, certain breast augmentation procedures could carry heavy risks. Those who choose to receive breast implants could be in danger of developing breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a severe health concern.

What is BIA-ALCL?

BIA-ALCL is a type of immune system cancer which forms in the scar tissue that develops around a breast implant. Though it is not a breast cancer, it can still metastasize throughout the body in some cases. Luckily, if caught early, this form of T-cell lymphoma is perfectly treatable. Unfortunately, though, it has caused the deaths of several women. As of 2020, the FDA reports 733 women have developed BIA-ALCL and 36 have unfortunately died worldwide. Typically, BIA-ALCL develops many years after the initial implantation, but it may occasionally occur earlier. Implants with a textured surface seem to pose a higher risk, but the FDA still recommends caution with smooth implants. The FDA has found no greater or lesser risk between saline- or silicone-filled implants. Therefore, patients should take equal caution when considering breast augmentation.

If you’ve had a breast implant, you should keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling of the breasts or armpit lymph nodes
  • Painful breasts
  • Lumps near breast implants or armpit lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Rash

Even one of these symptoms could be a sign of BIA-ALCL. If you notice changes in your breasts following breast implantation, consult your doctor immediately.

Diagnosis and Treatment of BIA-ALCL

When doctors suspect BIA-ALCL, they will typically order an ultrasound or MRI of the affected breast(s) to check for fluid retention around the breast implant. If abnormal amounts of fluid or a lump are present, the doctor should also order a fluid aspiration or biopsy to check for cancerous cells or cancer-causing proteins.

When a doctor diagnoses a patient with BIA-ALCL, they should immediately remove all breast implants. During removal, the surgeon will likely remove any masses in the breasts or lymph nodes as well. Following treatment, the prognosis is spectacular. Studies show that 93% of those treated quickly and early are disease-free after 3 years.

Protect Yourself from Unsafe Breast Implants

You deserve the full picture before receiving any type of medical intervention, especially a surgical implantation. The compassionate medical product liability and class action teams at McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, are dedicated to holding breast implant manufacturers accountable for neglecting to thoroughly research their own product, resulting in hundreds of women’s development of BIA-ALCL. With more than $1 billion recovered for our clients, our history of success against major corporations like Toyota, Wells Fargo, and more speaks for itself.

If you received breast implants and were subsequently diagnosed with BIA-ALCL, you could be eligible to receive compensation for medical costs, trauma, and wages lost due to illness. Contact us today or call (909) 345-8110 to schedule your free, discreet consultation.

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