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What Is BIA-ALCL?

Posted April 02, 2019 in BIA-ALCL, Breast Implant

When thinking of undergoing breast augmentation, it is important to learn about the concerns and risks associated with the procedure. Cosmetic surgery is constantly evolving, and most procedures, including breast augmentation, are safe and pose little risk to patients; but no surgery is risk-free.

Like any other medical procedure, some complications could arise from breast augmentation surgery. One such concern, ALCL (anaplastic large cell lymphoma) or BIA-ALCL (breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma), is something that could draw pause from anyone. This lymphoma can be painful to those afflicted, even though it remains highly treatable.

While implant-related illnesses are fairly rare, it is important for women to know what the risks may be. It is understandable to be scared or nervous about what could happen if a breast implant-related illness develops, but arming yourself with knowledge will ensure the best chance of success.

Woman with Breast Pain

What Is BIA-ALCL?

BIA-ALCL stands for Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma. It is what doctors call an “uncommon cancer” that is found in people with textured breast implants. Despite the cancer label, BIA-ALCL is highly treatable when caught early. BIA-ALCL differs from breast cancer in that it does not target the breast tissue, but instead targets the capsule of scar tissue that forms around a breast implant. It is very rare and still continues to be researched for further understanding.

BIA-ALCL Symptoms

  • Swelling of the breast (even years after the augmentation surgery)
  • Lumps in the breasts or armpits
  • Hair loss
  • Sleep problems
  • Recurring pain or tenderness

BIA-ALCL is slow-growing in most people and may not show up until many years after their breast augmentation surgery was done.

Risks of BIA-ALCL

Any woman who has had textured breast implants inserted is at risk of developing BIA-ALCL, but the odds are very small. BIA-ALCL is still considered to be a very uncommon disease, according to studies. The risk only involves textured breast implants (not smooth), but it is still considered a rare complication.

BIA-ALCL Treatment

If caught early, BIA-ALCL can be treated and cured. The treatment involves identifying the illness and removing the affected breast implant, along with any lumps, scar tissue or masses. If caught early, this may be all that is needed to cure the illness. A patient may need further cancer medication to get rid of the illness completely if it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes.

Woman with Postoperative Breast Wrap

Think You Have BI-ALCL? What To Do

The first thing is to make sure you get a medical exam as soon as possible and get a diagnosis. BIA-ALCL symptoms are very similar to symptoms for other conditions and it is important to ensure a proper diagnosis is made. If diagnosed with BIA-ALCL, don’t panic! It might be quite an unpleasant surprise, but it is very treatable, especially when found early.

While your implants will need to be removed for effective treatment, many women find themselves looking to breast augmentation again to restore their previous appearance. Dr. Koch offers several procedures tailored to give you the look you want.

For more information on breast augmentation, BIA-ALCL, or breast implants, call our office at 716-631-1220 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.