33 People Have Died From Textured Breast Implants Linked to Cancer

Ashley Oerman
Photo credit: Igor Ustynskyy - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

  • New data reveals there have been 573 reported cases of breast-implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma in the U.S.
  • The FDA is asking surgeons to return their textured breast implants to Allergan, the manufacturer.

In news that will make you comfort-clutch your boobs, Allergan is recalling its textured breast implants after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration linked them to a rare form of cancer.

The textured Biocell implants feature a nonslip shell, which is designed to minimize scar tissue by helping them stick to the chest wall and prevent the implants’ movement, says Dr. Daniel Maman, board-certified plastic surgeon with 740 Park Plastic Surgery. But in 2011, the FDA found a correlation between textured implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare type of cancer that originates in your lymphatic system, a network that’s spread throughout your body, per the Mayo Clinic.

At the time, the FDA writes on its website, there were so few cases of breast-implant-related cancer reported in the U.S. that it couldn’t say for sure whether the implants were dangerous. But in 2016, the World Health Organization designated breast-implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) as an actual disease triggered by textured breast implants.

Several more studies concluded that textured implants were associated with many cases of ALCL across the world in the years that followed. But new data out earlier this month revealed that patients using Allergan’s textured implants were six times more likely to face the rare cancer than people using other brands. That sparked the FDA’s request to Allergan to recall those implants and textured tissue expanders, used to stretch skin before adding an implant.

FWIW, these implants make up just 5 percent of the U.S. market, according to the FDA, and there have been just over 573 reported cases of breast-implant-associated ALCL in the U.S. and 33 patient deaths.

To be clear, the FDA isn’t encouraging women with these implants to have them removed unless they’re experiencing symptoms like pain and swelling around the implant. But Dr. Maman says that if you know your implants are the textured kind, you should contact your surgeon to discuss your risks and options.

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