Who Is Allergan?
Allergan is a medical device and drug company that is one of the largest manufacturers of breast implants across the globe. The company was founded in 1948 in Irvine, California, where it was headquartered until 2015 it was acquired by the Irish company Actavis. In 2019, through a second acquisition, Allergan became part of AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical company based in Chicago, Illinois.
Who Is Allergan Aesthetics?
Allergan Aesthetics is the branch of Allergan/AbbVie that produces aesthetic medical products, such as Botox injection and breast implants. Allergan produces silicone and saline breast implants that are sold worldwide, although most of its sales come from the United States, Canada, and Latin America. The company’s most popular breast implant brand is called Natrelle but it also sells other brands of breast implants as well.
What Is a Breast Implant?
A breast implant is a prosthetic device inserted during surgery, that alters a person’s breasts in size, contour, and shape. They can look natural enough to be visually indistinguishable from natural breasts and are commonly used in post-mastectomy or other medical procedures as well as in cosmetic breast augmentations.
What Can Breast Implants Be Made from?
Breast implants are typically made from a silicone outer shell that can be filled with either a silicone solution or a saline solution. Breast implants with silicone interiors come pre-filled, while those with a saline solution may be pre-filled or filled after the implantation surgery.
How Long Do Breast Implants Last?
Breast implants may not last forever. They generally last for between 10 and 20 years but may require some upkeep during that time.
Why Do People Get Breast Implants?
There are a variety of reasons why someone might choose to get breast implants, ranging from purely cosmetic to solving a medical problem. Some people who get breast implants do so because they wish to have larger breasts, while others have reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy. Yet others may have breast implants as part of their transition in gender reassignment surgery.
What Is a Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure that is performed to increase the size of the breasts. This surgery can be for the purpose of increasing self-confidence for those who feel a larger breast size will improve their appearance. It can also be to rebuild breasts that were damaged or removed for any reason.
Reasons for getting a breast augmentation can include:
- Improve self-confidence
- Correct uneven breasts
- Top surgery for a trans woman
- Reconstruct breasts for example after a mastectomy
What Is a Mastectomy?
A mastectomy is a surgical procedure that removes all breast tissue in either one breast or both breasts. This surgery can be used as a treatment for breast cancer or, for those who have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer, as a preventative measure. Those who get a mastectomy may have breast reconstruction surgery using breast implants afterward so that they retain the appearance of having breasts even after their removal. Other patients may choose not to have a reconstruction performed.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms within the cells of the breasts. It’s the second-most diagnosed type of cancer in the United States and can develop in both men and women. It’s much more common in women, however.
What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
The symptoms of breast cancer can include the following:
- Skin redness
- Skin pitting on the breasts
- The nipple newly inverting
- Dimpling in the skin on the breasts
- Changes in breast size
- Changes in breast shape
- Changes in breast appearance
- A lump in the breast
- Thickening in the breast that doesn’t feel like the tissue surrounding it
- Changes in the areola, including:
What Increases the Risk of Breast Cancer?
Certain people are at greater risk of developing breast cancer. Many of these people may choose to get a preventative mastectomy and subsequent breast reconstruction surgery as a preventative measure. The following factors can increase the risk of developing breast cancer:
- Family history of breast cancer
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Personal history of other breast conditions
- Older age
- Earlier first period
- Later first child
- Later menopause
- Not having children
- Treatments for menopausal symptoms
- Exposure to radiation
- Drinking alcohol
Women, in particular older women, are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer than those who are younger or those who are male.
Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?
There are some steps that you can take to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
- Avoid alcohol
- Cancer screenings
- Self-exams of the breasts
- Regular exercise
- Limit menopause treatments
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Eat healthy foods
- Medications that block estrogen
- Preventive mastectomy
Taking medications that block estrogen and getting a preventative mastectomy are options that may be available to those who are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Those who are of average or lower risk of breast cancer may be advised follow the other steps above to reduce their risk.
What Are the Risks of Breast Augmentation?
No surgery is risk-free. The risks associated with breast augmentation surgery can include:
- Scar tissue
- Changes in the position of the implants
- Implant leakage
- Implant rupture
- Breast sensation changes
- Nipple sensation changes
- Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
- Breast implant illness
What Is BIA-ALCL?
Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL, is a type of cancer that impacts the body’s immune system. The (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) FDA has linked an increased risk of this form of anaplastic large cell lymphoma to women who have breast implants with textured surfaces, though they have stated that more research into BIA-ALCL is needed into the connection.
What Are the Symptoms of BIA-ALCL?
The symptoms of BIA-ALCL include:
- A mass in the breast
- Fluid collection (seroma)
- Scar capsule
- Lump under the skin
All of these symptoms would occur around the site of the breast implant. Additionally, symptoms of BIA-ALCL could occur even long after the incision from the surgery has healed.
What Is Breast Implant Illness?
Breast implant illness is a term that covers several symptoms that are linked to breast implants that don’t have another explanation. It’s not completely understood how these symptoms are linked to breast implants, but the symptoms do typically disappear if the breast implants are removed.
What Are the Symptoms of Breast Implant Illness?
The symptoms of breast implant illness may include:
- Skin rash
- Memory loss
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Difficulty concentrating
- Respiratory problems with no explanation
- Hair loss
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Chest pain
- Light sensitivity
- Hormonal disturbances
Why Were Allergan’s Breast Implants Recalled?
- Natrelle saline breast implants:
- Natrell & McGhan 410 breast implants:
- Natrell Dual-Gel 510 breast implants:
- Natrelle INSPIRA breast implants:
- Natrelle & McGhan Round Gel breast implants:
- 110 Soft Touch
- 120 Soft Touch
- Natrelle Komuro breast implants:
- Natrelle Ritz Princess breast implants:
- Natrelle 150 Full Height double lumen implants
- Natrelle 150 Short Height double lumen implants
- Natrelle 133 tissue expanders:
- Natrelle 133 Plus tissue expanders:
What Should You Do if You Experience Adverse Effects?
If you have experienced adverse health effects because of Allergan breast implants, the first step is to speak to your doctor. You may also report the occurrence to the FDA, which you can do online or by mailing or faxing in a form.
Should You Consider an Allergan Breast Implant Lawsuit?
If you have developed BIA-ALCL as a result of having Allergan breast implants, then you may have a case against Allergan or AbbVie, which now owns Allergan. Contact Seeger Weiss for a free consultation to discuss your case.