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ASJ Study Puts the Risk of Death From Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma into Plain Perspective for Patients

Micromort Measurement Calibrates Actual Risk Based on Everyday Comparisons

New York, NY (August 23, 2017) – Findings from a recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal showed that the risk of dying from breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is 0.4, based on a micromort analysis, a unique tool measuring relative risk of activities, and exposures, defined by Ronald Howard in 1979 as 1 micromort = 1:1 million chance of death. The study will help with patient education about this rare condition that has recently been featured in the news. Its findings demonstrate the following:

  • The micromort of a woman skiing for 1 day = 0.77, 2x that of a patient having a breast implant for life
  • Drinking 2 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 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. Although rare, these numbers are not very tangible to patients or surgeons, especially with some recent inaccurate reports in the media.

According to the annual statistics of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 310,444 women had breast augmentation surgery in 2016. Since 1997, (when ASAPS began collecting aesthetic surgical data), the number of women who have received breast implants in the United States is 5,701,317. Since the FDA began tracking data for reported cases of BIA-ALCL in the United States in 1997, there have been 9 deaths to-date which were likely attributable to a then lack of knowledge about the condition. On a global scale, approximately 30,000,000 women have breast implants worldwide, (not including breast reconstruction) and there have been approximately 12 deaths worldwide. BIA-ALCL is a rare spectrum of disorders that can range from a benign accumulation of fluids around the breast (seroma) to an extremely rare lymphoma, that when caught early, is readily curable. It is not a cancer of the breast tissue itself.

William P. Adams, Jr. MD, one of the study’s authors explains, “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. 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 findings of this study are very important for patient education. The clear lymphoproliferative nature of BIA-ALCL along with the calculated risks associated with its diagnosis should be used for discussion during new consultations or at the time of presentation for evaluation of delayed onset seromas,” explains David A. Sieber, MD, the co-author of the study.

”This analysis resonates with patients,” Adams says. “They get it, when you explain to a patient that their micromort risk from skiing for one day is 2 times higher than the micromort risk of having a textured breast implant for their lifetime – or that traveling 8 hours by car carries a 40 times higher micromort risk than having two textured breast implants for their lifetime,” he continues.

The study’s authors explain that this is not data to downplay risk, (as there is risk with any surgical procedure), but merely a tool to add to a physician’s arsenal to properly explain the actual risk based on fact-based reporting and figures.

The full study can be found here: and a video featuring the study’s authors can be seen here:

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About the Aesthetic Surgery Journal

The Aesthetic Society Journal is the official publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. It is published eight times per year and contains scholarly articles on new advances and procedures pertaining to cosmetic medicine and the plastic surgery industry. ASJ was indexed with MEDLINE/PubMed in 2008 and with the Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report (JCR; formerly ISI) in 2011. It is the official English-language journal of many major international societies of plastic, aesthetic, and reconstructive surgery representing South America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It is also the official journal of The Rhinoplasty Society. The Journal also includes Continuing Medical Education articles and exams.

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. The Aesthetic Society is comprised of over 3,000 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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