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Rare association not cause for alarm

1 in 100,000 risk shouldn’t worry breast implant patients unduly, say surgeons

 London – 25 May, 2014 – Despite reports of a theoretical link between an extremely rare form of cancer (anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, or ‘ALCL’) and textured breast implants, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ( ); the only organisation based at the Royal College of Surgeons solely dedicated to the advancement and education of cosmetic surgery; today warns 150 cases out of more than 15 million should not cause alarm in patients.

The BAAPS has performed close to 80,000 breast augmentations (‘boob jobs’) in the last decade, with not one case of ALCL ever recorded in that period. According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Rajiv Grover;

“Breast augmentations have in recent years acquired a reputation for being an ‘off the shelf’ procedure, but meticulous technique from an experienced surgeon is essential to avoid complications. All BAAPS members are aware of the importance of antibiotic use and minimal handling when dealing with implants, known to be significant factors in reducing the risk of biofilms, which can result in capsular contracture. Biofilms are an area we have studied in depth and even held lectures on at our Annual Meeting last year, as we know that comprehensive training is essential to improve outcomes and minimize problems. Published infection rates in breast augmentation, for example, are 2.5% across Europe but the BAAPS’ own statistics show only a rate of 0.5% and less than half the re-operation rates of the US (2.6% v 5.1%).”

According to consultant plastic surgeon and former BAAPS President Fazel Fatah;

“It is important to remember that the number of breast implant patients globally is considered to be higher than 15 million, yet these tumours are extremely rare. The risk of death is only 1 in 2 million from it and cure available for 94% of sufferers, so women should continue to feel that their implants are safe. ALCL is normally slow to progress and not aggressive, with a good likelihood of recovery. BAAPS members have been made aware of this extremely rare association for a while and are vigilant to make sure the right steps are taken if the condition is suspected in a patient with breast implants. Women can be reassured of the very nature of the rare association and there is no need for concern unless they develop sudden unexplained changes or swelling - although this could be for a number of reasons not related to ALCL at all.”

According to consultant plastic surgeon and President of the BAAPS Rajiv Grover;

“It is down to the surgeon to evaluate the most salient risks they need to warn a patient about, depending on individual circumstances such as age and other particulars - however all are, or should be, made aware that breast cancer in general occurs in one out of tenwomen; independently of whether they have implants or not. The risk of ALCL is infinitesimally small in comparison."

The BAAPS is also the first in the world to have devised an insurance policy ( which covers all the most common complications of cosmetic surgery, including capsular contracture.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has continued research into what has been deemed ‘uncertain evidence’ of a link between the implants and increased risk of ALCL, and have no corresponding reports of a disease association:

The French regulatory body, the National Security Agency of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) also recently published the results of their manufacturer inspection programme and vigilance data analysis, confirming ‘no strong association’ between ALCL and the implantation of prostheses.


The BAAPS (, based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. Members undergo thorough background screening before they can join. Information about specific procedures and surgeons’ contact details can be found on the website, or by contacting their office at 020 7430 1840. Further materials can be posted to members of the public seeking specialised information. BAAPS is also on Twitter: and Facebook:

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