breast implants and cancer

Medical devices called breast implants are used to change the size, shape, and look of the breasts. They are often used to make the breasts bigger or to rebuild the breasts after a mastectomy or other surgery on the breasts:

There are two main kinds of breast implants:

those filled with saline and those filled with silicone gel. Silicone gel implants are filled with a sticky silicone gel, while saline implants are filled with a clean solution of saline. Both have a plastic shell on the outside.

Shapes of Implants

Breast implants come in different shapes, like round and structural teardrops. Round implants are proportionate and fill out the upper part of the breasts. Teardrop implants, on the other hand, have a more natural shape that looks like the slope of real breasts.

Surface Textures: The surface of breast implants can be smooth or rough. Smooth implants have a smooth surface on the outside, while textured implants have a rougher surface that is meant to prevent scar tissue from forming around the implant.

Implant Placement

Breast implants can be placed either subglandularly (behind the breast tissue and above the chest muscle) or submuscularly (partially or fully below the chest muscle). The placement rests on things like the person’s body, the quality of their tissues, and the result they want.

Incisions are usually made in the breast crease (inframammary), around the nipple (periareolar), or in the area under the arm (transaxillary) during breast implant surgery. Which incision and surgical method to use depends on things like the type of implant, the result you want, and the preferences and skills of the surgeon.

Risks and Problems

Like any other treatment, breast implant surgery has risks and could cause problems. Some of these problems are infection, bleeding, changes in how the breast or nipple feels, capsular contracture, implant rupture or leaking, implant malposition, asymmetry, and the need to remove or change the implant in the future.

Long-Term Monitoring

People who have breast implants are told to keep an eye on their breast health and have regular checkups with their doctors. Routine mammograms, breast self-checks, and clinical breast exams are important for breast health and finding any changes or problems with the implants.

breast implants and cancer

It is important to talk to a board-certified plastic surgeon who can give you personalised advice, talk about the possible risks and benefits, and help you figure out which choices are best for you based on your goals and other factors.

Read more: Best Breast Implant Brands in 2023


There has been some talk and study about the possibility that breast implants could cause cancer. Here are some important things to think about:

Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma Linked to Breast Implants (BIA-ALCL)

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that can develop in the tissue around breast implants. BIA-ALCL is a type of lymphoma, not breast cancer. This is important to know. BIA-ALCL seems to happen more often when the breast implants are rough than when they are smooth. If BIA-ALCL is caught early, it is generally easy to treat and can be cured. Most of the time, both the implants and the scar tissue that forms around them can be removed.

Risk of Breast Cancer

Research shows that getting breast implants does not make you more likely to get breast cancer. Multiple studies have found that women with breast implants do not have a significantly higher risk of getting breast cancer as a whole. But breast implants can make it harder to find and diagnose breast cancer because they can interfere with mammograms. Before getting a mammogram, women with breast implants should tell their radiologists so that the right imaging methods are used.

Cancer Linked to Breast Implant Surveillance: People with breast implants need to be watched over. Regular self-exams of the breasts and regular checkups with a doctor or nurse are advised. It’s important to pay attention to any changes in the way your breasts look or feel, like swelling, pain, or lumps, and to tell your doctor right away.

Recommendations from the FDA and information about safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives information and advice about breast implants and their safety. The FDA tells people who are thinking about getting breast implants to learn about the risks and benefits and have a conversation with their doctor. They also say that people who have breast implants should keep an eye on their breast health, know the signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL, and get regular medical care.

It is important to talk to a trained medical professional, like a plastic surgeon or oncologist, about your situation, worries, and any possible risks that may be linked to breast implants and cancer. Based on a person’s medical history and current situation, healthcare professionals can give them personalised help.


Know the Long-Term Risks of Breast Implants

As with any medical gadget, there are some risks associated with breast implants. It’s important to understand the possible long-term risks of breast implants. Here are some things to think about:

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture happens when scar tissue forms around the implant and tightens. This can cause stiffness, pain, and changes in how the breasts look. It can happen to different degrees and may require more surgery to fix.

Implants that break or leak

Over time, breast implants can break or leak. As the body absorbs the saline solution, saline implants generally lose their shape and size. When a silicone gel implant breaks, there may be no pain or other signs, like a change in the shape of the breasts. To find leaks or breaks, it’s best to keep an eye on things and possibly do imaging, like an MRI.

Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma Linked to Breast Implants (BIA-ALCL)

BIA-ALCL is a rare type of cancer that is linked to breast implants with a textured surface. There may be growth, pain, lumps, or changes in the shape of the breasts. It’s important to check on your health regularly and let your doctor know about any signs that worry you.

Changes in How the Breast Feels

Breast augmentation surgery can cause temporary or lasting changes in how the breast or nipple feels. Some people may feel more or less sensitive, and others may feel numbness in certain places.

Mammography Problems

Breast implants can make it harder to find breast cancer during a mammogram. For better pictures of breast tissue, you may need to use more imaging methods, like ultrasound or MRI. Before getting a mammogram, it’s important to let your doctor know that you have breast implants.

Breast Implant Removal or Revision

Breast implants may need to be taken out or changed in the future because of problems, changes in personal tastes, or factors linked to getting older. There may be more surgeries and the risks that come with them.

Psychological and Emotional Considerations

It’s important to think about the possible psychological and emotional effects of breast augmentation or reconstruction, as these treatments can affect body image, self-esteem, and satisfaction.

Read more: Breast augmentation in Iran

It is very important to talk to a skilled plastic surgeon about the possible risks and benefits of breast implants based on your situation. Long-term care for breast implants requires regular follow-up appointments, close monitoring, and open conversation with health care providers.

Which breast implants are linked to cancer?

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) has been linked to rough breast implants instead of smooth ones. A rare type of cancer called BIA-ALCL can grow in the scar tissue and fluid around the implant. Textured implants have a rough surface that is meant to lower the risk of capsular contracture. However, they have been linked to BIA-ALCL more than smooth implants.

It’s important to know that BIA-ALCL is a very rare disease with a low general risk of happening. Researchers are still trying to figure out what causes BIA-ALCL, but it seems to be a mix of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors. No matter what kind of breast implant a person has, they should be aware of the signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL and tell their doctor right away if anything changes.

Talking to a trained medical professional, like a plastic surgeon, about the risks and benefits of different types of breast implants is very important. They can give personalized advice based on a person’s unique situation and help them choose between the different types of breast implants.


Breast cancer treatment with implants

There are different ways to treat breast cancer with implants, depending on the person’s situation and personal preferences. Here are some popular ways to treat breast cancer for women who have breast implants or want them:

Lumpectomy with Implant Reconstruction

If the tumor is small and the person is a candidate for breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), it can be followed by implant reconstruction. After the tumor is taken out, the breast can be reshaped, and an implant can be used to add back the lost volume. This method lets the breasts stay the same size while giving the body a healthy look.

Mastectomy with Implant repair

When a mastectomy (the removal of the whole breast) is needed, repair with implants can be done at the same time or in stages. To change the shape of the breasts, the breast implant can be put under the chest muscle (submuscular) or on top of the muscle (subglandular). The decision of where to put the implant will depend on several things, such as how much breast tissue is left, plans for radiation therapy, and the person’s preferences.

Autologous Tissue Reconstruction with an Implant

For some people, it may be best to use their tissue (called “autologous tissue”) to rebuild the breast. In these situations, a deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap or a latissimus flap can be used to move tissue from another part of the body to the chest. You can get the shape and size of your breasts you want by using your tissue and an implant together.

Implant Removal

Some people with breast implants may decide to have them taken out as part of their treatment for breast cancer. This choice can be affected by things like where and how big the tumor is, whether or not radiation therapy is needed, or the person’s tastes. After breast implants are taken out, reconstruction choices like autologous tissue reconstruction or reconstruction with implants but without breast implants can be thought about.

It is important to talk to a multidisciplinary team, which includes a breast surgeon and a plastic surgeon with experience in breast reconstruction, about the best treatment choices based on the person’s situation, the type of tumor, and their personal preferences. The team can give you personalised advice and support to help you make smart choices about how to treat breast cancer and how to fix it with implants.



The FDA warns of a possible new cancer risk linked to breast implants

The FDA has admitted that breast implants can cause a type of cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). BIA-ALCL is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that can grow in the scar tissue and fluid around breast implants. The FDA has been keeping an eye on this group and posting new information on its website.

People who are thinking about getting breast implants should be aware of the possible risks and talk with their doctors about them. They should also check their breast health regularly, know what the signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL are, and tell their doctor right away if anything changes. For making smart choices about breast implants, it’s important to stay informed and talk about any worries with a qualified medical professional.


Monitor Your Breast Implants

Keeping an eye on your breast implants is an important part of taking care of them over time. Here are some important things to keep an eye on when you have breast implants:

Regular Self-Examinations

Check your breasts every month so you can get used to how they normally look and notice any changes. Check to see if your breasts have changed in form, size, symmetry, and texture, or if there are lumps or swelling. Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice any differences that worry you.

Clinical Breast Exams

Have your healthcare worker give you regular clinical breast exams. During a physical check, they will look at your breasts to see if anything is wrong or has changed.

Routine mammograms

Talk to your doctor about the best way to do a mammogram with your breast implants in mind. Tell the place doing the mammogram about your implants before the test so that the right imaging methods can be used. To get better pictures of breast tissue, it may be suggested to get more imaging views, like Eklund displacement views or an MRI.

Monitoring for Signs of Problems

Keep an eye out for any signs that breast implants might cause problems. These can include pain in the breasts, changes in the way the breasts look, swelling, redness, or an abnormal buildup of fluid. If you have any signs that worry you, you should talk to your doctor right away.

Follow-up meetings with Your Plastic Surgeon

Set up regular meetings with your plastic surgeon for follow-up care. They can look at the state of your breast implants, notice any changes, answer your questions, and give you advice on how to care for them in the future.

Stay Informed

Stay up-to-date on the latest information about breast implants, such as new studies, information about safety, or changes in the law. Reliable information can be found from sources like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or professional groups that focus on plastic surgery.

Remember that it’s important to talk openly with your doctor. If you have any worries or questions about your breast implants, you should talk to a skilled plastic surgeon or other medical professional who knows how to take care of them.


Signs of breast cancer with implants

Even though breast implants do not make you more likely to get breast cancer, it is still important to keep an eye on your breast health and be aware of any signs or symptoms that could mean you have breast cancer. Here are some warning signs:

Breast Pain or Discomfort:

If you have pain or discomfort in your breasts that you can’t explain and that lasts or gets worse over time, you should see a doctor.

Changes in the skin:

Look for redness, swelling, thickening, dimples, or puckering in the breast skin.

Changes in the Nipples:

Pay attention to any changes in the nipples, such as inversion (when the nipple turns inward), changes in position, or discharge (especially if it is bloody or happens without squeezing).

Lumps or Masses

Do regular self-exams of your breasts to find lumps or masses that are new or different. Remember that most lumps are harmless, but it is important to have any new or worrying findings checked out by a doctor.

It’s important to keep in mind that diseases other than cancer or issues with implants can also cause these signs and symptoms. If you notice any changes or have worries, you should talk to a doctor or nurse. They can look at your symptoms and give you the right advice.

Even if you have breast implants, you should still perform routine clinical breast exams, self-exams, and mammograms following your doctor’s advice to detect breast cancer early. Make sure to tell your healthcare workers that you have implants so that they can adjust the way they check you.

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