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, discuss the risks and benefits with your health care provider. Carefully review any information provided to you by your health care provider.
You are also encouraged to review information about the risks of specific breast implants. For example, you can:

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

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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:

Some of the adverse events that can occur with breast implants include:

You are encouraged to:

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

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare 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). BIA-ALCL in Canada currently meets the World Health Organization's (WHO) definition of "rare". WHO uses the following terms when describing how often an adverse event occurs:

In Canada, the rate of BIA-ALCL is significantly higher in patients who have highly textured (macro-textured) breast implants. As of December 31, 2022, the estimated risk of BIA-ALCL in patients with macro-textured breast implants is 1 in 1,475, which is considered rare. The estimated risk of BIA-ALCL in patients with micro-textured breast implants is 1 in 19,412, which is considered very rare. There are no confirmed cases of BIA-ALCL in individuals in Canada who have a known history of only smooth 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 (macro-textured) 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. Although these macro-textured breast implants are no longer available in Canada, some people still have these implants.

You can find current information about the number of reported cases of BIA-ALCL in Canada on our BIA-ALCL Canadian surveillance data blog. You can also find current information on recalls, advisories and safety alerts.


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. This is because BIA-ALCL is rare, slow-growing in general and has an excellent health outcome when diagnosed in the early stages. There are risks associated with surgery to remove or replace breast implants. As well, removing only the breast implants may not eliminate the risk of 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.

Other types of cancer near a breast implant

The United States Food and Drug Administration recently published information about other types of cancer found in the scar tissue that can form around a breast implant. The U.S. reports were found with both smooth and textured breast implants, and those filled with saline or silicone.

These cancers are different from BIA-ALCL. They include different types of lymphomas and squamous cell carcinoma.

As of June 2022, squamous cell carcinoma and different types of lymphomas have been reported in the literature and directly to Health Canada through incident reporting. We continue to review the reports of these other types of cancers and are actively monitoring this issue. We will inform Canadians as required.

If you are considering breast implants or have breast implants, our recommendations remain the same:

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