Can Breast Implants Cause Lymphoma?

Can Breast Implants Cause Lymphoma?

The FDA and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have officially confirmed that silicone breast implants, especially those that are textured, can increase the risk for a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer) called Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).  

What Is The Risk?

Experts have identified approximately 250 patients so far, but this is out of millions of breast implant patients. How can you know whether you might have this lymphoma complication? Typically, one of your breasts will spontaneously swell up without any cause.

If you experience unilateral breast enlargement (one-sided breast swelling), you should see your surgeon immediately. Your surgeon will do an examination and then order an ultrasound-guided tap of the fluid surrounding your implant that. Next, they will send out the fluid for testing to rule out lymphoma. While it is absolutely necessary for doctors to evaluate all breast swelling or lumps, in most cases they turn out to be non-threatening in nature and experts can treat them effectively. If lymphoma is, in fact, diagnosed early treatment can result in a complete cure.

Treatment of lymphoma simply requires removal of the implant as well as the removal of the capsule, or natural scar tissue that forms around the implant. The capsule may appear thickened as in the picture to the right.

Remember, breast care requires routine self-examination and annual follow-up with your surgeon in order to enjoy lifelong enhanced breast shape and augmented size. We encourage patients to consider smooth-shelled silicone breast implants instead of textured implants, as the smooth shell tends to avoid this lymphoma complication.


To discuss the benefits and risks of textured-surface vs. smooth-surfaced implants, please book a consultation with Dr. Mowlavi.

Click here to learn more about the different types of implants used in breast augmentations.

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