People receive breast implants for several reasons. One might seek to alter the size of the breast through breast augmentation. One might also receive an implant in the course of breast reconstruction, a surgery one might undergo to replace breast tissue lost to cancer, trauma or mitigate abnormal growth. No matter the reason for the surgery, individuals receiving the implants generally seek the change out. It is usually an elective surgery.

Unfortunately, for some individuals, this choice has had devastating consequences. There have been 573 reported cases worldwide of breast-implant associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), which is a cancer affecting the immune system. An astonishing 481 of those cases had breast implants or tissue expanders from the same manufacturer—Allergan.

The FDA issued a Class 1 recall on all breast implants and tissue expanders using natrelle biocelle-textured implants from this manufacturer in July of 2019. Class 1 is the most serious recall the FDA issues, indicating that the use of this medical device may cause serious injury or death.

How high is the risk for BIA-ALCL?

While testing is ongoing and the cancer is by no means common, the FDA’s current information indicates that individuals with Allergan implants are six times more likely to develop the immune cancer than those with implants from other companies. Of the individuals reported sick, twelve of those with the Allergan implants have died of the disease.

What should you do if you have an Allergan breast implant or tissue expander?

You should speak with your medical provider about your options. If you develop symptoms, it may become necessary to explore further medical and legal options.