Can Breast Implants Make You Ill?

Board-certified plastic surgeon Rafael Cabrera and his team at the Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton are committed to patient safety and satisfaction. Nothing matters more to Dr. Cabrera than his patients’ well-being, and he strives to deliver the highest quality of care.

In recent years, anecdotal reports of breast implants causing health problems have received a lot of media attention. Dr. Cabrera knows that some of his current and prospective patients may have questions about these reports, and he wants to take a moment to discuss implant-related illness.


Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a very rare type of lymphoma that can develop following the placement of breast implants. It is not a cancer of the breast tissue itself; it is a cancer of the cells of the immune system. Patients with BIA-ALCL often develop a seroma (i.e., a collection of fluid) around the implant. It occurs more commonly in women that have textured implants than in those with smooth implants.

In March, the FDA held a two-day meeting to gather data from researchers and implant manufacturers on the safety of textured implants, and to hear from women who developed lymphoma and other illnesses after getting breast implants. Some of these women demanded a ban on the sale of textured implants.

The FDA announced in early May that they won’t pull textured implants off the market. Although they said the risk of getting ALCL was slightly increased, the risk was still low and there was not enough evidence to justify banning sale of the implants.

Experts still do not know exactly what causes BIA-ALCL. A coalition consisting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the FDA and implant manufacturers is working toward finding the cause.

A very small number of women with textured implants will get the disease. According to the ASPS, the lifetime risk of BIA-ALCL is estimated to be one in 30,000 women with textured implants.

ALCL is treatable. A PET/CT scan is performed to look for cancer that has spread throughout the body. If the cancer is limited to the area around the implant, the implant itself and the surrounding capsular tissue are removed. Any associated lumps or masses are removed. If the cancer has metastasized, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be needed.

If You Are Considering Getting Breast Implants

If you are considering getting breast implants but have questions or concerns about their safety, you should consult with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Cabrera in person. During your consultation, he can answer all of your questions and address your concerns about breast implant safety.

If You Already Have Breast Implants

If you already have implants, you do not need to have them taken out unless a problem develops. The best thing you can do to keep yourself safe and healthy is see your doctor annually for a physical exam to check for any problems with your implants. If you experience any symptoms like redness, swelling, pain, or discharge, or if you notice a change in your breast shape or color, see your doctor immediately.

Should a complication occur, your plastic surgeon can review your treatment options with you and help you decide how to proceed.

Contact Dr. Cabrera Today

If you have any questions about breast implant illness, Dr. Cabrera invites you to contact our practice today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

I’m Not Happy With My Large Breasts: What Are My Options?

Most women think you’re lucky to have large breasts. But they don’t realize that large breasts can cause serious physical problems, from never-ending back pain to difficulty breathing. Keep reading to learn about your options for large breasts.

Myths and Facts About Liposuction

Liposuction has come a long way since the procedure’s early days, yet many myths about it that started decades ago still remain. Here, we explore six myths and set the record straight, giving you the real facts about liposuction.

How Your Diet Is Impacting Your Skin

Your diet plays a starring role when it comes to keeping your skin strong and firm. Beyond the beautiful glow of healthy skin, the foods you eat can also help slow down aging and prevent flare-ups of chronic skin conditions.

Understanding Your Risk for Skin Cancer

One in five people will have skin cancer at least once in their lifetime. Unfortunately, 5% of all cases are melanoma, the type of cancer that turns deadly if it has time to spread. Knowing your risk for skin cancer can help you prevent the disease.

Help for Your Sagging Breasts

No matter how well you care for your body, you can’t avoid aging or the effect of gravity, the top causes of drooping breasts. Even if you have significant sagging, there’s still hope. You can regain a more youthful, perky profile with a breast lift.

What Can I Do About My Aging Hands?

Aging hands appear sooner than you might expect. Exposure to sunlight, water, detergents, yard work, sports, and projects at work or home make hands age at a fast pace. But at any age, a rejuvenation procedure restores youthful, beautiful hands.