Many women in Australia are once again unsure about whether or not breast implants are safe. Silicone breast implants were restricted by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in the 1990s, but in 2001 the TGA lifted restrictions and allowed the implants back on the market after extensive studies found no link between silicone implants and increased health risks, including increased risk of cancer. Concerns have once again been raised about the safety of implants after five otherwise healthy women in Australia who have saline or silicone-gel implants were diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma in recent years.
Complications with implants are fairly common and often occur during the typical two-to-three month recovery time for breast implants. Early on, major risks include infection, implants that move out of position and rupture or tearing. After patients have successfully passed through the recovery time for breast implants, complications can include hardening of the implants and leakage. The United States’ Federal Drug Administration has recently reported that women who have either saline or silicone-gel implants may also be at a very slightly increased risk for anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which appears to form in the scar capsule next to the implant in an extremely low percentage of women.
Out of the 5-10 million women who have received implants worldwide, only 60 cases of ALCL have been reported. The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons is not recommending that women avoid getting implants because of increased cancer risk, and it is also not recommending that women have implants removed to protect their health. The risk of getting ALCL from implants is, in the words of ASPS president Peter Callan, “unbelievably low.”
Women in Australia are urged to not panic about the issue of implants and to consider them safe unless a more definitive link between implants and cancer is found. Studies performed in both Australia and the U.S. in the 1990s found no such link and the likelihood that one has developed since in very slim. Breast implants enhance to lives of women worldwide and extensive research into their safety has again and again found both silicone-gel and saline implants to be safe.
Author: Lisa Moore