10 July 2019

Removing the bumps . . . Reducing the risk

Removing the bumps . . . Reducing the risk

Breast augmentation has long been a popular procedure worldwide for centuries, however, it’s receiving microscopic attention – and not all for good reasons. Textured implants – the fourth generation of implants – came onto the marketplace in the late 1980s, and whilst the use of both smooth and textured implants have dominated the breast platforms for over three decades – it’s textured implants that have breast specialists raising eyebrows and researching around the clock.

What is it about textured implants that’s causing concern? “Breast Implant Associated ALCL is closely related to strongly textured implants, and can be avoided by using smooth devices,” says Adam Bialostocki, Da Vinci Clinic plastic and cosmetic surgeon. Textured implants provide the perfect hiding spot for bacteria. Coupled with this, implants with a higher surface area may also grow bacteria quicker. “BIA ALCL remained a hot topic at last month’s Plastic Surgery Congress in Melbourne, and whilst breast experts are still pinpointing the underlying cause going forwards, our advice is to stop using strongly-textured devices at the moment unless absolutely required.”

What exactly is BIA ALCL? It is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a cancer of the immune system cells – that develops near breast implants. “One of the most common symptoms of BIA ALCL is swelling – an accumulation of fluid. This can happen within a year of breast implant insertion, or within 40 years,” explains Adam. “What we do know, is more uncommonly BIA ALCL will present as a lump in the breast or under the armpit.”

According to researchers at Macquarie University's MQ Health, the mean time for developing BIA-ALCL was found to be 7.35 years. With their extensive study of Australian and New Zealand women revealing that between 2007 and 2016, of the 55 patients diagnosed with BIA-ALCL, all were exposed to textured implants. Findings also found the risk of developing BIA-ALCL is as high 1 in 3800 implants.

The good news for Kiwi women with textured implants? The New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons continues to provide its members with the latest information about BIA-ALCL, including how to manage patients with suspected or proven BIA-ALCL. “What we learnt at this year’s congress was that we are equipped with the best information and that here at Da Vinci Clinic we are already using best practice techniques – preventing bacteria attaching onto implants through proven surgical strategies and preventing bacterial contamination at the time the implant is placed in surgery,” says Adam. If you or someone you know is seeking guidance on breast implants, don’t wait for things to worsen, speak to a trusted professional.