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Are Breast Implants Really Safe?

Hundreds of thousands of patients have breast augmentation surgery in the United States every year. In fact, it’s one of the most common plastic surgery procedures with a high satisfaction rate. According to a survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 98% of women say the results met or exceeded their expectations. Many of them reported improvements in self-esteem and quality of life.

But are breast implants really safe?

We get asked this a lot! Patients wonder about what they’ve heard in the news and the newest FDA guidelines for implant surveillance. The truth is that there is a relatively low rate of issues compared with millions of happy, healthy patients over the years.

However, there have been rare instances when patients have issues, and we look at two of them here, BIA-ALCL and BII.


Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare type of lymphoma that affects some people who have saline or silicone breast implants with a textured surface. Studies from the National Institutes of Health show the “reported incidence of BIA-ALCL varies widely in the literature, ranging from as high as 1 in 355 patients to as low as 1 in 30,000 patients. Incidence rates also vary, from as high as 1 in 3,215 person-years to as low as 1 in 500,000 person-years.”

BIA-ALCL may develop in patients who get textured implants as part of breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy or breast augmentation surgery for cosmetic breast enlargement.

Do note that though BIA-ALCL occurs in the breast, it is not what we commonly think of as breast cancer. Breast cancer, as we commonly hear it, usually refers to ductal or lobular carcinoma. BIA-ALCL is also different from breast implant illness (BII). When diagnosed and treated early, it is curable in most people.

What is BII?

Breast implant illness (BII) refers to a group of symptoms that may be related to breast implants, although the exact cause isn’t known, and it isn’t a formal diagnosis because researchers are continuing to learn more about it. BII may be related to an autoimmune or inflammatory response. People with BII may experience fatigue, joint pain, rash, memory issues, or brain fog. Treatment is the removal of the patient’s breast implants. Also, a capsulectomy is no longer necessary for an improvement in symptoms.

It is worth noting that there is no test to detect BII. Healthcare providers diagnose the illness by ruling out other conditions. BII affects people with any type of breast implant. Moreover, only about 1.5% of women with breast implants have reported symptoms that correlate with BII.

The Newest FDA Guidelines Regarding Breast Implant Surveillance

FDA-approved breast implants undergo extensive testing to provide patients with a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. A great majority of people with breast implants never have serious complications. However, there are risks associated with breast implants, and we will discuss these with you during your consultation.

At the Plastic Surgery Center, your health and safety are of the utmost importance to us. So, it’s important that you know about the latest recommendations from the FDA.

The FDA recommends patients undergo routine ultrasound or MRI screenings five years after implantation. This screening should be repeated every two to three years after the first screening. Even if patients never have a concern about their implants, they should have routine screenings based on the FDA guidelines. Screenings verify that your implant is intact and help identify any complications.

We can detect any issues by proactively monitoring your breast implants. Implant monitoring is a good idea, and we encourage you to come see us for a surveillance check if you meet the FDA guidelines.

What If I Don’t Want My Implants Any Longer?

If you don’t want your breast implants any longer, there is another option!

We have seen many patients who, for a variety of reasons, don’t want their implants but want to maintain their shape and lift. So, an increasingly popular option is breast implant removal with or without a mastopexy (breast lift), with autologous fat grafting to restore volume.

The Benefits of Breast Augmentation Surgery

Now that you are up to date on the latest facts regarding breast implants, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of patients with breast implants experience no serious complications.

Breast augmentation uses breast implants to increase the fullness and projection of the breasts or to improve their symmetry. Women choose breast enlargement surgery to augment lost breast size, make their breasts fuller, or change their shape. Breast implants can provide a more proportional shape and improve self-confidence. Whether it’s heredity, monthly cycles, pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight changes, aging, or menopause, breasts may lose their shape and firmness, and breast augmentation surgery can help.

Today, patients have many options for breast augmentation surgery, and their first step is a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. During this appointment, your highly experienced and qualified surgeon will walk you through your options and discuss any risks.

Would You Like to Learn More?

If you’re ready to explore your options, please call 316-688-7500 to schedule a consultation with either Dr. Amy Sprole or Dr. Joseph Spaniol, who are board-certified plastic surgeons at the Plastic Surgery Center.

 Plastic surgery involves many choices – the most important is selecting a surgeon you can trust. Expect exceptional results when your procedures are performed by plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, like Dr. Sprole and Dr. Spaniol. These specially trained doctors have at least six years of surgical training and experience, with a minimum of three years of plastic surgery.