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Textured Breast Implants Linked to Rare Form of Cancer

Breast implant surgery is considered a major procedure in the field of cosmetic surgery. Although it is an elective procedure, about 280,000 cases of breast augmentation take place in the U.S. alone every year, bringing the market value of the treatment to US$1.2 billion in 2016.

It is estimated that there are between 10 million and 35 million people with breast implants worldwide. 

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There are generally two types of breast implants – smooth and textured. Both types have silicone outer surface pre-filled with silicone gel or sterile saline solution. The category of breast implants that is in question here is the textured one.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) reported on 10 May 2019 that textured breast implants have been found to be linked to a rare form of cancer of the immune system called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). 

It was found that out of the 800 reported cases of BIA-ALCL, many of these patients have experienced swelling around the textured implant, eventually developing into BIA-ALCL.

The delayed onset of BIA-ALCL can range from as early as 12 months to as late as 37 years after the breast implant surgery. There are no studies done to determine the factors responsible for the development of BIA-ALCL. 

In April 2019, HSA took a precautionary measure to stop the use of Allergan Natrelle breast implant in Singapore. It is the only macro-textured breast implant to be registered in Singapore. 

To date, HSA received one report of BIA-ALCL in Singapore. Fortunately, the patient was diagnosed early and is currently recovering.

An expert panel of doctors was convened to discuss and access the situation of breast implants and the risk factors associated with them. It was concluded that the textured breast implants appeared to be associated with higher risks of BIA-ALCL. 

Plastic surgeons in Singapore advised people who have breast implants to be pay more attention to the areas around the breasts. If you display any swelling, lumps, or pain around the implant, see a doctor immediately. If there is no abnormal condition arising from the implants, it is not necessary to remove them. 

If you are still concerned about the implants even if they are not painful to the touch, you can consult your doctor to discuss your options. 

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