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Breast Implant Recall: What Should You Do If You Have Allergan Recalled Implants

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Earlier this year, breast implant manufacturer Allergan voluntarily recalled its BIOCELL textured breast implants.

However, what does that mean for the women who have those implants in their bodies right now?

While some doctors are removing more and more implants, others say, there is no need to rush in to surgery.

Magdelis Hidalgo loves her new breast implants. She especially loves that they are not made by Allergan.

"Since I put the other implants, I never felt comfortable. I never felt comfortable," she said.

When she first had breast augmentation surgery almost five years ago, her doctor at the time used Allergan's BIOCELL textured implants.

After a few years, she says one of them ruptured, and she had to have them removed.

Breast Implant Recall Allergan
Allergan voluntarily recalled its BIOCELL textured breast implants in July 2019. (CBS4)

After learning of Allergan's recall, she is glad she did.

"I felt a mix of fear and at the same time I thought, 'Wow, at last I don't have them anymore.' But I thought of a lot of women who do have them and they could go through the same thing as me."

Allergan has since recalled those implants due to a link to a rare form of cancer known as Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.

According to the FDA, 33 deaths have been reported worldwide so far due to BIA-ALCL.

"It's not a breast cancer because it's not growing out of breast tissue," explained double board certified, Coral Gables-based plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Careaga. "It's growing out of that capsule, the scar tissue around the implant. The treatment is to remove that capsule with the implant and place a new implant. That's it. You don't have to do any further surgery. No radiation, chemotherapy. No lymph node removal. The cure is a capsulectomy."

Hidalgo didn't develop the cancer, but she turned to Dr. Careaga for her second surgery.

Breast Implant Recall Allergan
Allergan voluntarily recalled its BIOCELL textured breast implants in July 2019. (CBS4)

He uses a different brand of implants, but says women who currently have the Allergan textured implants do not need to immediately have them removed.

"The only thing they need to be doing is breast self-exams every month as recommended by the American College of OBGYNs and the American Cancer Society and noticing if there are any changes to their breast. ALCL is not silent. There are symptoms. It's the progressive swelling of one breast," he said.

Leslie Zakian also has the recalled Allergan implants, but she says she wants them out.

"I don't know that I have the exact condition that they've recalled, or the reason why they've made the recall. But I've certainly had a lot of issues and I believe they are coming from those implants," Zakian said via Skype interview.

She says she has suffered a variety of symptoms over the last two decades she now believes are connected to her implants.

Zakian is among the growing number of women considering "explant" surgery, a procedure that's become so common at one South Florida practice, Aqua Plastic Surgery, the doctors are no longer doing any implants at all.

"I do so many explants right now, it's just a focus of my practice and I elected not to implant anymore," Dr. David Rankin explained.

Dr. Dev Vibhakar said he's never used this type of implant before.

"With these manufactured implants, they did do studies to see what kind of effect they had on patients early on. But I think long-term studies could have been useful in determining whether these were causing these types of problems, especially with the anaplastic lymphoma," Dr. Vibhakar said.

Zakian lives in New Jersey, but is considering going to Aqua Plastic Surgery to remove her implants.

"I need to explant," she said. "Not for any other reason, and certainly not specifically because of this reason, because I don't have the exact condition they are recalling for. But knowing what I know now, I can't un-know it. It's dangerous. They shouldn't be in my body and I need to get them out."

While many women are removing their implants, Dr. Careaga says breast augmentation remains the most popular esthetic surgery in the U.S.

He says the incidence of BIA-ALCL linked to the Allergan implants is fairly small at 1 in 30,000. Meanwhile the chance of a woman developing a routine breast cancer over the course of her lifetime unrelated to implants is 1 in 8, he said.

Bottom line, if you have implants, no matter the manufacturer, Dr. Careaga recommends women get routine check-ups with their surgeon to ensure their safety.

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