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Special Report: Breast Implant Illness and BIA-ALCL

In this special report, we have compiled the most important information you need to know about breast implant illness (BII) and breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Written by Jen Uscher

Reviewed by 9 medical advisers

Sophie Bartsich, MD, FACS New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY

Mark Clemens, MD, FACS University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Frank J. DellaCroce, MD, FACS St. Charles Surgical Hospital and Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, New Orleans, LA

Lu-Jean Feng, MD Lu-Jean Feng Clinic, Pepper Pike, OH Neal Handel, MD, FACS

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

Matthew G. Stanwix, MD, FACS

Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, MD, PhD University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada

Robert Whitfield, MD, FACS Austin, TX

Diana Zuckerman, PhD National Center for Health Research, Washington, DC

— Last updated on April 28, 2023

This article is a special report on breast implant illness (BII) and breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). It provides important information about the risks, symptoms, and treatment of these conditions, as well as the efforts of patients and advocates that led to product recalls and new safety recommendations from the FDA.

The report features the story of Robyn Towt, who experienced debilitating symptoms after getting breast implants. She eventually discovered that her symptoms were related to her implants and decided to have them removed. Her symptoms disappeared after removal.

The article discusses emerging risks associated with breast implants, including BII and BIA-ALCL. BII is a cluster of symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, and joint pain that can occur after breast implants. While it is not officially recognized as a medical condition, experts believe it may be related to an autoimmune reaction to implants. BIA-ALCL is a rare form of T-cell lymphoma that develops in the scar tissue and fluid surrounding an implant. It is curable if diagnosed early and treated appropriately, but some women die from the illness.

The safety of breast implants has been a subject of debate for decades. While many women undergo breast reconstruction or augmentation with implants and report satisfaction with the results, there have been concerns about the adequacy of risk disclosure before surgery. Some women who developed complications related to their implants felt that they were not adequately informed about the risks.

The report emphasizes the importance of improving informed consent and ensuring that patients have a clear understanding of the risks associated with breast implants before undergoing surgery. It also highlights the role of online communities in providing support and information for women experiencing complications.

Overall, the special report aims to raise awareness about the risks of breast implants and the importance of informed decision-making in breast reconstruction and augmentation procedures. It acknowledges the need for further research and discussion on the topic to address the confusion and fear surrounding breast implant safety.

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