ASJ Study Puts Implant-Associated Risk of BIA-ALCL Into Perspective for Patients

In an effort to help patient’s understand the relative risk of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), authors of a study published in the September 2017 issue of Aesthetic Surgery performed a micromort analysis, which measures relative risk of activities and exposures.

As defined by Ronald Howard in 1979, 1 micromort = 1:1 million chance of death. The authors of the new study found that the micromort of dying from BIA-ALCL is 0.4. To help illustrate this risk to patients, authors David A. Sieber, MD, and William P. Adams, Jr., MD, offer the following comparisons:

  • The micromort of a woman skiing for 1 day = 0.77; 2x that of a patient having a breast implant for life
  • Drinking two glasses of wine or riding a bike for 17 miles = 1; 2.5x the micromort of having a breast implant for life
  • Driving a car for 8 hours = 16; 40x the micromort of having a breast implant for life

The authors noted that the lifetime risk of developing BIA-ALCL from breast implants in previous epidemiological studies ranges from .003% to .005% for those with textured implants based on U.S. data. “Unfortunately, patients are getting the wrong information, and this study is critical to correcting that. Furthermore, with this data, we are now confident that this condition needs a reclassification as a lymphoproliferative disorder and not a lymphoma,” said Dr. Adams. “We conducted this micromort study to bring real-life perspective for all existing and potential breast augmentation patients who might have reservations about implants based on the recent media coverage indicating that breast implants can be fatal—a sensationalized take on a very rare and very treatable condition.”

The study's authors explained that this is not data to downplay risk—as there is risk with any surgical procedure—but a tool to help physicians properly explain the actual risk based on fact-based reporting and figures.

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