Breast augmentation and reconstruction are personal choices. Every patient that makes this choice should have a full understanding of the risks, benefits and possible complications of the procedure. While many women may worry about complications arising during the implantation operation, it is more common for patients to experience complications months or years after receiving their breast implants. One such complication could be breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) – a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that led to the recent recall of Allergan textured breast implant products. If you are experiencing complications, please contact our Allergan breast implant recall attorneys immediately.
Capsular contracture is a common breast-implant related complication. This is a local complication that affects the implantation site, rather than a systemic complication that could lead to full-body symptoms or ramifications. Capsular contracture is a natural response some patients’ bodies may have to the insertion of a foreign object. Most patients form capsules of healthy scar tissues around the breast implants as the body’s way of protecting itself from foreign objects.
Scar tissue capsules are fibrous and generally unnoticeable to the patient. Scar tissue capsules can also help keep breast implants in place. In less than 3% of cases, however, a patient’s scar capsule can become hard and noticeable rather than soft or slightly firm. Capsular contracture can occur when hard scar tissue contracts, or tightens, around the breast implant. Pressure on the implant can distort its physical appearance and cause the patient chronic pain or discomfort. Patients who experience capsular contracture often require corrective breast implant surgeries.
A breast implant could rupture and/or deflate over time. Any kind of breast implant could rupture if it suffers a tear to its outer shell. Doctors reserve the term “deflate” for saline breast implants, which may contain product defects such as valve failures that can cause slow leaks. A breast implant rupture or leak could cause rapid changes in the way the breast looks, or it could occur more slowly and less noticeably over time.
A breast implant tear could occur if the patient suffers an impact to the implant in a car accident, violent attack or needle insertion. Surgical removal of the compromised implant and corrective surgery are common treatments for implant ruptures and deflations. The patient’s body will absorb the solution from saline implants, but silicone implants could cause further complications. In rare cases, silicone gel could spread throughout the body and lead to the formation of scar tissue.
Breast implant wrinkling or rippling may occur if the skin covering the implants has an issue. In some patients, scar tissue may not properly cover or secure the implants. Women with thin natural breast tissue can be especially prone to complications such as implant wrinkling. Implant wrinkling can cause noticeable changes to the appearance of the breasts (typically rippled or wrinkled skin). Revision surgery – possibly with reconstructive tissues implanted for additional support – can help correct implant wrinkling.
A rare but serious potential breast implant systemic complication is cancer. BIA-ALCL may develop in patients with breast implants years after breast augmentation or reconstruction. Specialists believe this type of cancer stems from irritation of the breast tissues from the breast implant, which can ultimately damage the cells and cause cancerous cells to grow. In most cases of BIA-ALCL, it is the scar tissue surrounding the implant that contains the cancerous cells, not the breast tissue.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been 573 known cases of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma. BIA-ALCL has a survival rate of 89% to 93%, but 33 known cases have ended in patient death. Most patients recover from BIA-ALCL after the removal of the breast implant and the affected scar tissue and/or fluids surrounding the implant.
Some women with breast implants present various symptoms they believe are caused by their breast implants. These symptoms are referred to as Breast Implant Illness. Women who report that they suffer from breast implant illness describe symptoms such as fatigue, chronic pain, chills, headaches, hair loss, anxiety, brain fog, depression, hormonal issues, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, memory loss, and others. Breasts implant illness is not an official medical diagnosis but social media has made it possible for more women to come forward and share their symptoms with others who are also affected.