NEW ORLEANS — More than 10 million women have breast implants, and Tuesday the FDA had a second round of hearings to address the possible cancer risk of a certain type of implant.
Although that cancer risk is rare, local doctors are hearing from concerned women who have implants for either reconstruction or for augmentation.
"I've had numerous calls and texts from patients of mine just concerned whether they had a smooth implant or a textured implant," said certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jules Walters, of Khoobehi & Associates, and also an Assistant Professor of Surgery at LSU Health Sciences Center.
Walters said the concern of an increased risk of anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL, is with implants that have a textured shell, not ones that are smooth.
"To my knowledge, and to quote the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 'there does not appear to be an increased risk in patients that have only had smooth implants,'" he said.
He has been reassuring his patients that he only uses smooth implants.
"I heard that there was a problem with these certain implants that were textured, but I know I don't have them," said patient Pamela Young Smallpage.
Of the 457 cases of ALCL, 310 had textured implants. Most women are cured after implants are removed, but some had the cancer metastasize. Dr. Walters says for now the FDA is not recommending routine removal of textured implants, but he says tell your doctor about any abnormalities.
"If there is any swelling, or pain, or new lumps in the breast, absolutely contact your board certified plastic surgeon, ASAP and schedule a consultation for a physical exam," recommended Dr. Walters.
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Walters said the scientific data are constantly being updated, so talk with your doctor to see if your implant manufacturer is offering help if you want to have them removed or replaced.
"Implants are one of the most studied devices worldwide, so as board certified plastic surgeons, we're continuing to study this and look at this and to make sure that it's safe for all women," he said.
Both silicone and saline implants can have the textured shell. Three of the biggest implant manufacturers say their implants have gone through extensive pre-clinical device testing for safety.