Breast Implant Lawsuit

If someone is harmed due to a faulty breast implant, a lawsuit may be filed against the manufacturer – or less often, against the plastic surgeon. Whether you underwent breast augmentation surgery for cosmetic or reconstructive reasons, you expected the procedure to be safe. You never dreamed that one day – perhaps a decade later – the implants inside your body would leave you fighting a deadly disease. Emerging research has shown that breast implants cause a rare form of lymphoma.

Breast implants are medical devices that are implanted under the breast tissue or under the chest muscle to increase breast size (augmentation) or to rebuild breast tissue after mastectomy or other damage to the breast (reconstruction). They are also used in revision surgeries, which correct or improve the result of an original surgery.

There are two types of breast implants approved for sale in the United States: saline-filled and silicone gel-filled. Both types have a silicone outer shell. They vary in size, shell thickness, shell surface texture, and shape (contour).

What is the problem with breast implants?

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has received hundreds of reports of a rare form of cancer being diagnosed in women who have had breast implants. There’s even a term for the condition: Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Research suggests that the breast implants risk of cancer may depend on what kind of implants you have. Textured implants pose the greatest risk, while a much smaller number of BIA-ALCL cases involve smooth implants.

Who makes textured breast implants in the United States?

A number of companies manufacturer prosthetic breast implants sold on the U.S. market. Current manufacturers of FDA-approved breast implants include:

  • Allergan (formerly called Inamed and McGhan), which makes both smooth and textured versions of its Natrelle implants
  • Mentor World Wide LLC, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, which makes both smooth and textured implants under well-known brand names such as MemoryGel and MemoryShape
  • Sientra, Inc., which makes silicone gel breast implants with both smooth and textured surfaces
  • Ideal Implant Incorporated, which manufactures smooth implants but not textured ones

Already, Allergan and Mentor Worldwide are facing lawsuits due to breast implants lymphoma risks and other complications.

Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)

According to the World Health OrganizationBreast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a T-cell lymphoma that can develop following breast implants. Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the cells of the immune system. It can occur in many different parts of the body, including the lymph nodes and skin. Even though BIA-ALCL is found in the breasts of some individuals (cis- and trans-gender women and men) with breast implants, it is not breast cancer.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of BIA-ALCL are persistent swelling or pain in the vicinity of the breast implant. These symptoms may occur well after the surgical incision has healed, often years after implant placement. 

Some of the most concerning ALCL symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Pain in the breast or around the implant
  • Lumps that develop in the breast
  • Swelling of the breast
  • Misshapen or asymmetrical appearance of the breast
  • Fluid buildup in or around the breast

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms of ALCL, it’s important that you get medical care right away. This isn’t a complete list of all possible breast implant lymphoma symptoms. You might also notice changes such as:

  • Hardening of the implants or the surrounding tissue
  • Redness of the skin surrounding the breast
  • Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes, especially in the neck, armpit, or groin area
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in other areas besides the breast, including the chest, back or abdomen

Ultimately, any changes you notice in your breasts or your overall health could indicate a serious medical condition. In the case studies reported in the literature, BIA-ALCL is usually found near the breast implant, contained within the fibrous scar capsule, and not in the breast tissue itself. The illustration below shows the location of the ALCL in these reports. In most cases, the ALCL cells were found in the fluid surrounding the implant (seroma) or contained within the fibrous scar capsule. [Modified from Thompson et al, 2010]

How can a doctor detect BIA-ALCL?

Typically, this happens when patients begin noticing symptoms like fluid buildup. Doctors collect samples of this fluid for testing – and the test results reveal the presence of malignant T-cells. More generally, doctors may use a number of different tests to diagnose non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, such as:

  • Physical exams
  • Biopsies
  • Chest X-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
  • Ultrasound imaging tests
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
Do I qualify to file a BIA-ALCL lawsuit?

You may have a breast implant ALCL cancer lawsuit if you:

  • Underwent a breast augmentation surgery, regardless of whether it was reconstructive or cosmetic, and
  • Developed the rare BIA-ALCL form of lymphoma, even if your diagnosis occurred many years after getting implants

Whether your breast implants contained saline or silicone gel, or whether they had textured or smooth surfaces, you had the right to expect these medical devices to be safe. You didn’t deserve to develop this disease or to endure the pain and stress it has caused your family. What you do deserve now is help to get the compensation and justice you deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact our team of lawyers at McEldrew Young today by filling out our form or calling 1-800-590-4116. We are hard-working lawyers for hard-working people.

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