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26 cze 2019
The Breast Implant scandal
Women still unaware of cancer link to breast implants, surgeon warns Dr Roberto Viel said any woman with Allergan implants should go back to see their consultant and consider changing implants.
Thousands of women with particular breast implants may still be unaware they could be at greater risk of getting a rare form of cancer, a Harley Street surgeon has warned.
Dr Roberto Viel said that despite growing evidence of a possible link between rough-textured implants, the most well known brand of which, Allergan, has been withdrawn from use in several countries, and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), many women are oblivious to the potential danger.
Dr Viel recently removed Allergan implants from a long-standing patient of his, “Luisa”, after she began experiencing unusual symptoms, such as swelling of the breast, six years ago.
It was only after seeing media coverage following French authorities decision earlier this year to ban the implant that Luisa decided to have an investigation.
Be aware of symptoms
Dr Viel, who has run his own practice in Harley Street, the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery, for the past 30 years told i: “Women who have had these implants need to be aware of the problem. Don’t be scared, but be aware. As soon as they see the first symptoms, like Luisa had, with the sudden swelling it’s important to go back to the surgeon and to do the change of implant. This is something that cannot be ignored.”
The ALCL forms in the scar capsule around the implant and normally begins with pain and swelling in the breast. Women who have the implants and capsules removed can make a full recovery, but if left untreated the disease can spread throughout the body and become life-threatening.
Studies have shown that patients with textured implants face a higher risk of ALCL, not a breast cancer but a cancer of the immune system. There are thought to have been at least 75,000 women worldwide who have had the Allergan implants and plastic surgeons have identified approximately around 700 cases of ALCL to date.
Allergan has repeatedly said that patient safety is its number one priority.
Luisa, a 51-year-old mother of three from London, said: “Whenever you have a foreign body in your body there are implications: everything has an expiry date, just like the food you buy in a supermarket. If a patient experiences something abnormal, like I did, go and get it checked out.”
Like many women in her position, several ultrasounds and mammograms failed to show anything wrong and Luisa was given a clean bill of health for many years.
“Most of the time you’re given a clear picture of perfect implants. If you rely on that only you can get misled,” she said. “The message is: wake up ladies. Check and do your homework every time you have surgery, because this can be life threatening. If I’d have waited any longer to get mine removed, the implications of that in terms of getting cancer could have been a reality.”
Dr Viel said: “We do not know the exact reason why the adverse reaction is taking place in women with textured implants, which is why I advise a COI (change of implant) procedure as a I did in Luisa. That way we can remove the implant at an early stage and [hopefully] there is no sign of cancer so that the patient is safe. But if you leave something like that for too long, then it can eventually develop into something worse.”
Luisa said she was shocked to discover how bad a condition her capsules were in after Dr Viel showed them to her following surgery. “Instead of being milky white in colour, they were yellow and there was an inflammation of the capsule surrounding the implant, which was never evident from the ultrasound scan,” she said.
Dr Viel said it was difficult to estimate how many women in the UK still have Allergan implants. “There are thousands and thousands of implants of this type that have been used. That’s why it’s important to be aware.”
BIA-ALCL is often contained inside the tissue surrounding the implant. However, it can spread to other parts of your body’s lymphatic system, including the lymph nodes. The main symptoms include:
continuous swelling or pain around your breast implant, which may occur long after a surgical incision has healed or many years after implants are inserted.
fluid collection around your breast implant
capsular contracture, which can cause a lump under your skin or thick scar tissue around the implant resulting in a misshapen appearance
Symptoms of other breast implant complications vary. As noted above, infection is one complication associated with BIA-ALCL. It’s important to treat any breast implant complications that arise. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical advice:
redness swelling pain discharge change in breast shape or color fever
Regarding autoimmune symptoms to look for, one studyTrusted Source notes that silicone breast implants can cause symptoms of autoimmune diseases in some patients. These symptoms include: