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Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed a direct link between a rare form of blood cancer known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) and textured breast implants. Now, a new case study has found a potential link between butt implants and the same rare disease.
The study, published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, describes the case of a woman who had two textured silicone butt implants put in. Shortly after, she began developing ulcers and fluid around her implants and, a year later, was diagnosed with ALCL. Unfortunately, the diagnosis came too late and cancer had already spread through her body, forming tumors in her lungs. Despite undergoing aggressive chemotherapy, the woman died within months of receiving the initial diagnosis.
If you decide to augment your breasts or butt, there are two types of implants you can choose from: textured or smooth. Some women opt for textured implants as they tend to prevent slipping or movement over time. Smooth implants are more likely to move and might need to be readjusted at some point. But generally, they feel more natural. The textured implants, in particular, appear to be more likely to cause ALCL.
Why? Well, the reasons aren't exactly clear, but Elisabeth Potter, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon, and reconstruction expert, has a theory. "In my own experience, textured implants create a more adherent capsule around the breast implant that is different from the capsule around a smooth implant, in that the capsule around a textured implant adheres more strongly to the surrounding tissue," Dr. Potter previously told Shape. "ALCL is a cancer of the immune system. So there may be an interaction between the immune system and this textured capsule that contributes to the disease."
Yeah, this news is alarming considering the already-established relationship between breast implants and ALCL; however, the authors of the study did note that this case only shows an association between the woman's textured implants and ALCL. They can't confirm that the implants are what actually caused the woman's cancer. (Related: Is Breast Implant Illness Real? Everything You Need to Know About the Controversial Condition)
Still, the authors warned women to be more informed about the potential complications that come with implants and urged them to educate themselves on what exactly they're putting into their bodies.
"You need to know whether the implant is textured or smooth on the outside, what type of material is filling the implant (saline or silicone), the shape of the implant (round or teardrop), the name of the manufacturer, and the year the implant was placed," said Dr. Potter. "Ideally, you will have a card from your surgeon with this information and the serial number of the implants." This will help you in the event that there's a recall on the implant or if you experience an adverse reaction.
In light of these recent reports, the FDA will be holding a public meeting later this year to "ensure that patients and health care providers continue to have accurate, scientifically sound information about breast-implant safety and effectiveness."
Canada, however, has already made a move to ban textured silicone implants from the country. As a first step, they've suspended the sales of Allergan's Biocell brand of textured implants since their products were directly linked to 24 out of 28 reports of people developing ALCL.
“To protect Canadians from the rare but serious risk of BI-ALCL, Health Canada is advising Allergan that the department intends to suspend its licenses for Biocell as a precautionary measure,” Health Canada (Canada's version of the FDA) said in a statement according to The Bulletin.
Hopefully, these red flags at least encourage medical professionals around the world to have more informed conversations with their patients and also to conduct further research into all the health problems that may be associated with implants.