What is BII?
Symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, rash, “brain fog,” and joint pain may be associated with breast implants. Some patients may use the term “breast implant illness” (BII) to describe these symptoms. Researchers are investigating these symptoms to better understand their origins. These symptoms and what causes them are poorly understood. In some cases, removal of the breast implants without replacement is reported to reverse symptoms of breast implant illness.
What is BIA-ALCL?
BIA-ALCL (Breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma) is a rare cancer of the immune system related to breast implants. It is not a breast cancer, coming from cells of the breast, rather a cancer that grows in the fluid and scar tissue around a breast implant. Patients with BIA-ALCL most commonly present with swelling or a mass.
BIA-ALCL can occur from one year to as long as 37 years after the placement of implants. On average the diagnosis is made within 8 years with 95% between 3 and 14 years.
In Australia all cases of BIA-ALCL have developed in patients who have textured breast implants. The risk is between 1:2500 and 1:25000 depending on the type of implant. The more textured the implants the higher the risk. Smooth implants are not linked to BIA-ALCL.
Ultrasound or MRI should be performed 5-6 years after your initial implant surgery and then every 2 years thereafter or anytime there are symptoms. If there is significant fluid surrounding the implant, a sample is taken via fine needle aspirate and is sent off for testing. BIA-ALCL can be diagnosed from this fluid. Having a small amount of fluid is normal and most fluid collections are not due to BIA-ALCL.
In the majority of cases patients are cured by removal of the implant and total capsulectomy. Rarely further treatment is required
It is currently not necessary to remove breast implants in patients without symptoms. Breast implants have a finite lifespan, and typically should be removed or replaced every 10-15years.