Breast implants carry very low risk of causing cancer

Cosmetic surgery to address anything from wrinkles to abdominal fat has become more acceptable in recent decades. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says that, since 2000, overall procedures have risen by 115 percent.

Although procedures like lower body lifts and nose reshaping remain popular, breast augmentation was the most common of the 1.7 million cosmetic surgical procedures performed in 2015. Breast augmentation includes lifts, reconstruction, and implants. The safety of breast implants is continually scrutinized, particularly with regard to the potential correlation between implants and cancer risk.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently updated its understanding and warnings concerning cancer linked to breast implants. Nine deaths and 359 cases have been reported to the Administration that involved a unique cancer that is associated with breast implants. Extremely rare anaplastic large cell lymphoma affects cells in the immune system and can be found around the breast implant. It is important to note that this is not a form of breast cancer, but a separate strain of cancer that can be found in the skin or lymph nodes. Women who have had problems with the implant, such as lumps or asymmetry, are at a higher risk for the condition than women who haven’t had problems. However, it is estimated to occur in only one of every 300,000 women with implants.

Breast implants remain a generally safe option for those seeking augmentation or reconstruction. Many of the risks associated with the implants will occur soon after surgery, if at all. These may include settling and malpositioning. Leaking and capsular contracture, or when a layer of scar tissue develops around the implant, can occur in the first several years.

The Administration suggests that women carefully consider the pros and cons to implants before deciding to go under the knife. In many cases, additional procedures or replacement in the future may be necessary. According to the its Center for Devices and Radiological Health, while a few women may keep their original implants for 20 years or more, that is not a common outcome.

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