Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Catherine Begovic, M.D. shared a summary of FDA safety information, Monday, that she wants patients to know before getting breast implants.
The board-certified female plastic surgeon reaches 1.76 million viewers on social media as one of its most-followed medical professionals.
Her video on breast implant safety has been viewed 425,000 times.
In light of the FDA’s announcement this month of a new cancer—and various lymphomas—found in breast implant capsules, here’s what the surgeon shared in a 0:50-second spot Monday, September 19th.
“1. Implants are not lifetime devices. They must be replaced at least every 10 years.”
Surgeons hold varying opinions on the number of years after which a patient’s breast implants should be replaced, with 10 years being a long enough time period where, the industry agrees, check ups would be called for.
“It is a total myth that implants need to be changed every 10 years,” shared Dr. Richard J. Brown separately, just three weeks prior to Begovic’s statement.
Brown noted implants “will not last forever,” and that patients can expect to have “at least two surgeries depending [on] how young” they are when they get breast implants.
Writing for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, M.D., addressed this very question in April 2017: “Do I need to change my breast implants every 10 years?”
“The short answer is probably not,” he concluded.
(Kaplan’s views “do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons,” says a standard disclaimer on the article.)
The U.S. FDA says simply—and repeatedly—that, “The longer you have your implants, the more likely it will be for you to have them removed or replaced,” but offers no timeframe within which they should be replaced.
“2. For silicone implants, the FDA recommends getting imaging every other year to check for a leak.”
According to the latest study on silent ruptures in silicone breast implants, as many as 300,000 U.S. women (or 1 in 10 women with the implants) may have an implant rupture of which they’re unaware.
This study, published January in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS), found a direct correlation between the length of time patients had silicone breast implants, and the rate at which they experienced a silent rupture.
Silent ruptures are the typically undetectable (without MRI or Ultrasound imaging) leakage of silicone gel from an implant believed to be fully intact.
Another study, in PRS in August, looked at how often women with breast implants actually undergo the FDA-recommended silicone breast implant screening schedule.
It found that 84.4% of study participants—92 out of 109 women with silicone breast implants—were “unaware of the recommendation.”
Given the widespread lack of awareness of safety screening recommendations, Begovic’s caveat and others like it are important.
“3. Before deciding on implants, educate yourself about breast implant illness.”
The U.S. FDA says that “current evidence supports that some patients experience systemic symptoms,” which “may resolve when their breast implants are removed.”
Among these symptoms, the FDA reports, are fatigue, memory loss, rashes, brain fog, joint pain, and autoimmune diseases.
“4. There is a rare lymphoma [‘called BIA-ALCL’] associated with breast implants. These are predominantly associated with textured implants but there’s still ongoing research and investigation.
“The FDA also recently reported another cancer—squamous cell carcinoma—that has been associated with implants.”
The FDA made the latter announcement on September 8th, 2022, two months shy of the 20-year anniversary of the first case of this cancer being reported in the professional literature.
“5. Allergan and Natrelle textured biocell implants, known as the gummy bear implant, were recalled by the FDA.
“And finally, go to the FDA.gov to read the black box warning on implants.”
In their quest for constant content, some “social surgeons”—not including Begovic—have been accused of occasionally overstepping boundaries to share opinions on topics in which they’re neither trained nor expert.
But Begovic is speaking on matters she knows well and deals with daily, and for many patients and viewers, her safety suggestions, summarized mostly from U.S. FDA information, couldn’t come soon enough.