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Update on breast implants

You may be aware of some recent media on the safety of breast implants.

These concern the incidence of a form of lymphoma (ALCL), which has occurred in around 500 cases of the estimated 35 million women with implants worldwide. The most accurate data at present shows that risk of this rare type of lymphoma varies from 1:2,700 up to 1:80,000 depending upon the type of textured surface. It should also be noted that ALCL is not a breast cancer, which is a separate disease and impacts around 1 in 8 women regardless of whether they have implants or not.

Here are some important facts:

  • ALCL is related to bacterial biofilm contamination of implants that occurs during implant insertion.
  • It is generally observed in women 7-10 years after their surgery and often presents as swelling or a lump.
  • Of the 72 cases reported in Australia, the TGA has advised that the vast majority of cases were cured by removal of the implant and the capsule surrounding the implant.
  • Dr Moncrieff’s technique is aimed at preventing the formation of biofilm and he has demonstrated this by committing to the Macquarie University 14 point plan to reduce infection risk. The site includes a register of those who have committed to this plan, including Dr Moncrieff.
  • Your consultation is an opportunity to discuss all risks associated with surgery including the choice of implant and the steps your surgeon takes to avoid bacterial contamination of the implant at time of surgery.
  • You can be assured that we use implants from the world’s leading implant manufacturers. These include Mentor, which is owned by Johnson and Johnson. Mentor implants are backed by a life-time guarantee and have a demonstrated safety record and have been shown in the ALCL research to have amongst the lowest rates of implant-related complications. 
  • We do not use the heavily textured Silmed or Allergan implants that have been featured in the media as being higher risk (a small number of these implants were chosen for select patients prior to 2016. If you are concerned, please contact us on the link below and we can confirm your implant type).

Are you concerned about a change in your breast?

If you are concerned about your breast implants, particularly swelling or hardening, then please immediately seek medical advice from your GP or if you had your surgery here, you should book an appointment with our surgeon. The first step is generally an ultrasound to investigate the source of swelling, which in most cases is not related to ALCL.

Looking for more information?

Dr Moncrieff is a member of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons which have released this statement reinforcing the rare nature of ALCL and the commitment amongst their members to reducing infection risk by committing as our surgeons have, to the 14 point plan.

You can read the 28 August 2017 statement from the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons here. And the ASAPS May 2018 update following media articles on the topic is here.

More details are available from the Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration which recently reviewed this issue.

What about breast implant illness?

Recent media has also featured reports of various illnesses which women with implants have attributed to those implants. At this stage there is limited evidence to show their implants are linked to these issues, as the same rates of those complaints such as lethargy, UTIs, colds etc, are found in women of similar ages who do not have implants.

For more information, you can ready the July 2018 statement from the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons here which highlights that breast implants are medical devices and that women should seek medical advice before making decisions to remove them.