VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A cancer risk prompted a local woman to remove her breast implants. Abigail Melton said she is now sharing her story in hopes of warning other women who have textured implants.
Melton got her implants four years ago. At that time, she said she decided to purchase textured implants, because she believed that was the best choice for her body.
“When they were first presented to me at my pre-op appointment, they had a very low-risk rate of capsular calcification, which is the hardening of the tissues in the healing process," Melton explained.
Over the past couple of years, shocking research from the FDA shows textured implants have a small risk of developing "breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma," which is also known as BIA-ALCL. It’s a slow-moving cancer that doctors can be curable if the implants are removed.
According to the FDA website, “In most cases, BIA-ALCL is found in the scar tissue and fluid near the implant, but in some cases, it can spread throughout the body. Precise risks are difficult to determine due to lack of information about how many patients have received breast implants in the US and worldwide.”
"Oh, OK. One more thing to worry about,” Melton said was her response when she learned of the risk.
That cancer risk is too much for Melton to handle, and that’s why she recently decided to remove her implants.
“I’ve had no issues since my surgery [but] cancer does run on both sides of my family," she said. "And just for preventive measures and for precautionary measures, I’ve decided to have them removed and replaced with smooth high-profile implants.”
On the FDA’s website, it explains that exact number of cases of BIA-ALCL remains difficult to determine because of limitations in the reporting of breast implant sales data. Experts believe it ranges between 1 in 3,000 women to 1 in 30,000, and nine people died from the cancer.
“Now that we have seen the texturized process is associated with ALCL, they will be taken off the market at some point," said Dr. Richard Rosenblum. "In Europe and in Canada, most of the texturized implants within the last six months have been taken off the market and I think the United States will follow suit.”
Dr. Rosenblum said he stopped doing textured implants in 2016 after the data came out showing a connection. He explained, “The numbers were there and even though they are small, it was one in 30,00 women could develop the BIA-ALCL. It was one we didn’t want to be a part of.”
His advice to women with breast implants is they should visit their plastic surgeon for a check-up if they are worried.
“Find out what kind of implants they have, whether they are smooth or texturized," he said. "If they are texturized, then there are certain symptoms you should look for. One could be pain; two could be fluid around the implant; three could be a misshapen implant and four could be a mass.
While the risk is small for developing cancer, Dr. Rosenblum said there’s still a chance.
“I always say if it’s one in 30,000, if you’re the one, [then] it’s 100 percent for you,” he said.
Melton’s replacement surgery went well. She said she is glad she doesn’t have to worry about a cancer risk because of her implants.
“Just given 10 more years’ time, I could have shown signs for developing this ALCL cancer,” she explained.
For more information about the FDA’s warning, click here.