Get the Facts about BIA-ALCL

January 17 2019

Patient education is very important to the plastic surgeons at Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists. We believe our patients should have all of the facts about their desired procedure before making critical decisions to move forward.

Breast augmentation patients, specifically those with a certain type of implants, have a very small risk of developing a rare cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). In this post, we share the most important facts about BIA-ALCL.


BIA-ALCL is a rare cancer that develops adjacent to breast implants. Experts do not know why it develops, but they know it has only been found in cases of women with implants that have textured surfaces. There is no record of BIA-ALCL in women with smooth implants.

According to data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which as an agency is collecting and evaluating information about BIA-ALCL as it becomes available, the chances of getting the disease are extremely low. It is estimated that BIA-ALCL develops in 1 out of every 3,817 to 30,000 women.

Symptoms of BIA-ALCL include enlargement or hardening of the breasts, pain or discomfort, skin rash, a lump in the armpit or breast, and collection of fluid months or years after implant placement.

Diagnosing and Treating BIA-ALCL

Women that experience symptoms consistent with BIA-ALCL are encouraged to schedule a physical exam with their doctor. Ultrasound or MRI testing may be performed to look for fluid or lumps around the implant and in the lymph nodes. Any fluid or masses that are found can be tested by a pathologist to confirm a diagnosis or rule out the condition.

When caught early, BIA-ALCL is highly treatable. Women diagnosed with BIA-ALCL may have additional scans or tests performed to determine whether the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Treatment usually includes the surgical removal of the breast implant and the fibrous capsule that has formed around the implant. After the implant removal, patients are usually asked to have regular imaging tests every three to six months to make sure the disease has not reoccurred.

Do You Have Additional Questions about BIA-ALCL?

We want you to feel confident in your choices about plastic surgery, and we are happy to discuss the potential risks with you in detail. To learn more about BIA-ALCL, please contact Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists today.