Are Breast Implants Really Safe?

By on August 1, 2019
Breast implants

The world of breast augmentation features more technology than ever before, not to mention more knowledge about breast implant creation. As medical knowledge increases, technology adapts to make implants safer than ever before. After gaining more insight into the safety standards of textured breast implants, news came out concerning health risks associated with them. 

After being banned in Europe and facing FDA inquiries, Allergan has announced a global recall on their textured Biocell breast implants. The recall is centered around an increased risk for a rare form of cancer known as anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. Globally, a total of 537 reported cancer cases are linked to the implants. All patients who received breast implants are urged to check with their plastic surgeons to find out the type of implants they received. If you were given Allergan Biocell implants, it’s crucial to discuss your options with your plastic surgeon and book an explant procedure. 

Explanting 101

An explant procedure is an act of removing breast implants, and it’s typically followed by one of several procedures that ameliorate the look of implant removal. If your breast implants are recalled, then the first step to make is to have your implants removed. 

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Explanting is typically done under general anesthesia. 

The type of explant procedure that needs to be performed is called an “en block capsulectomy. This removes the entire implant, along with its casing, in a single swoop. By keeping the implant intact and removing the capsule alongside it, the risk of being exposed to the cancer-causing elements gets decreased and natural tissue pliability is maintained.

During the process, a small incision is made in the same area where implants were first placed in. Then, the doctor goes in through the incision to remove the implants. After the implants are removed, the incision is closed. 

All Patients are then given a customized aftercare plan and will see a full recovery in three to four weeks. 

Option 1: Replacement

The most common choice people select is a replacement option for their implants. This involves choosing a new pair of implants that offer a similar (or better) result and inserting them in the empty space left by the now-gone implants. 

The replacement operation is done at the same time as explanting and typically involves minimal extra recovery time. You and your surgeon will work together to choose the right implants or procedures for you. 

Option 2: Mastopexy

At times, patients won’t want to replace their implants after an explant procedure. This leaves excess skin and space where the implants once rested. If left alone, this could cause sagging. To fix this issue, plastic surgeons offer mastopexies. 

Mastopexy procedures are done under general anesthesia, often right after explanting. The surgeon removes excess skin and tightens the skin around it. This gives breasts a lifted, smoother appearance. 

Option 3: Auto-Augmentation Breast Lift

In a traditional mastopexy, excess tissue is removed in order to lift and tighten the base breast tissue. This inadvertently causes the patient to lose breast tissue, which isn’t something that is always desirable. This procedure offers a natural, tighter appearance without loss of breast size is auto-augmentation mastopexy. 

During auto-augmentation mastopexy, the surgeon begins by removing the excess tissue through incisions specific to the patient’s breast size. Then, he will use the excess tissue to reshape and augment the breasts. This preserves the breast size while giving breasts a firmer, lifted shape.

Option 4: Mastopexy with Fat Grafts

At times, the excess tissue alone is not enough to give implant-free breasts a lifted and youthful look. When this is the case, surgeons will use liposuction to remove fat deposits from another part of the body, sanitize the fat, and then graft it onto the breast tissue. The surgeon will then tighten the skin around the breast and close incisions.

Mastopexies performed with fat grafts are typically done concurrently with explants. At times, it is performed in conjunction with other surgeries like liposuction or arm lifts. This cuts surgery time and also makes it easier to recover from everything without excess resting periods.

One thing that patients should know is that regular fat grafts do lose a certain percentage of their volume after transfer. When you heal, it’s normal to see a slight reduction in volume. So, excess fat will be inserted in order to make up for the loss that will happen while breasts heal. 

Option 5: Mastopexy with Alternative Fat Grafting Technique

One of the newest methods to offer implant-free, lifted breasts uses “Biocharged” fat grafts. These fat grafts undergo a special treatment to ensure they last longer and are more likely to stay at their full size. The procedure is almost identical to standard fat grafts but includes a special treatment to improve the quality of fat.

Allergan’s global recall on Biocell breast implants is a serious one and can impact the health of recipients.

Dr. Barry Di Bernardo and Dr. Matthew Trovato have provided their expert commentary.


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Are Breast Implants Really Safe?