Breast implants risks

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The risks associated with breast implants

Like all medical devices, breast implants have benefits and risks. Licensing of a medical device means:

There can be important new information about a device's safety, effectiveness or quality after licensing. For this reason, we continue to monitor the benefits and risks of products while they are marketed in Canada.

If you are considering breast implants, you are encouraged to do your research and discuss the risks and benefits with your health care provider.

For information about the risks of specific breast implants, you can:

You can also find more information about each manufacturer's breast implants in:

Common risks and adverse events

There are many complications and risks associated with breast implants. These risks are explained in the product labelling, which should be available from your surgeon.

Common risks immediately following surgery include:

In some cases, more surgery may be required:

Adverse events include:

You are encouraged to report a medical device problem related to the use of breast implants.

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is an uncommon type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that can develop next to the implant.

BIA-ALCL is not a cancer of the breast tissue, but a rare and serious cancer of the immune system (the system that fights infections).

In Canada, the rate of BIA-ALCL is significantly higher in patients who have highly textured (macro-textured) breast implants. In 2019, Health Canada completed a review of BIA-ALCL. As a result of the findings, we suspended the licences for Allergan's Biocell breast implants. These were the only macro-textured implants available in Canada.

Allergan has recalled all unused Biocell devices from the Canadian market. Allergan also issued a worldwide recall on all Biocell breast implants and tissue expanders.

You can find current information about the number of reported cases of BIA-ALCL in Canada on our recalls and safety alerts page.


Symptoms of BIA-ALCL can develop months or years after the implant surgery and may include:

You should check your breasts regularly for any unusual changes, such as:

Discuss any signs or symptoms with your health care provider.

Diagnosis and treatment

Removing breast implants isn't recommended if there are no signs or symptoms suggesting BIA-ALCL. You should discuss the risks and benefits of removal with your health care provider.

If BIA-ALCL is suspected, samples of the following are collected and sent for analysis:

Please refer to the guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of BIA-ALCL.

The recommended treatment for suspected or confirmed BIA-ALCL is to surgically remove both:

Some women may need follow-up chemotherapy and/or radiation to treat the disease.

In rare cases, BIA-ALCL has resulted in death.

Related links

Risks and complications of breast implants

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