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BIA-ALCL; A Patient’s Story

As awareness of breast implant complications rises, so do concerns about the safety of breast augmentations. While some complications range from swelling and minor numbness post-operatively, others are more serious, such as BIA-ALCL.

Plastic Surgical Associates got to witness one of the rarer ones, breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), first hand. A patient came in when her original surgeon dismissed her concerns. Although BIA-ALCL is rare (estimated rate of incidence varies from one in a million to 1 in 2,832*), Dr. Duncan felt that something was off and reached out again following the initial assessments.

Here is the patient’s side:

“Dr. Duncan’s diagnosis of BIA-ALCL in my right breast was missed by my original plastic surgeon. I had [severe] swelling in one side that came and went over the course of a few weeks. I brushed it off, attributing it to lifting a heavy weight, or a post breastfeeding change. I had minimal pain and never thought it couldn’t have been something so serious. After meeting with Dr. Duncan about downsizing my implants, I received a notice from her office explaining her concern that I could have BIA-ALCL. She wanted me to take precautionary measures whether I used her as a surgeon or not.

She absolutely saved my life.

Not only is this women a genius and an incredible plastic surgeon but she is extremely tasteful and truly cares about her patients. She is so up to date with her practice that she diagnosed something many doctors haven’t even heard of at the time.

I had two surgeries to fully removed my textured implants and the cancerous capsule. I was prepared for my breasts to be completely destroyed since I went from over a DD cup to a small B. Dr. Duncan made me look great, and more importantly, I am healthy! Dr. Duncan is amazing and so is the entire staff!”

We are so grateful to be able to assist patients with difficult turning points in their lives, and this was one of those cases. Finding a surgeon who stays up to date on advances and events in the field, as well as assessing those changes from an academically rigorous viewpoint, is incredibly important! For more about Dr. Diane Duncan check out some information here

*Note: these rates of incidence are for patients with textured implants. Textured implants with more surface area (i.e. larger implants) seem to show a higher chance of BIA-ALCL within the current research.

Happiness and Treats

The why’s of the aesthetic and cosmetic fields generally come down to a single thing: happiness. Perhaps more cynically: less unhappiness

We generally see patients that are unhappy with some aspect of their physical self (and perhaps more often, their psychological selves). Many patients hope that changing a physical aspect of them will make them happier, more content, more at peace… and many times it does. However, there is a dark side to this (and it doesn’t always have cookies).
The dark side of the ‘difference = happiness’ equation is when patients expect Photoshop perfection when correcting a very physical form. Filters and lighting and the right pose can hide a multitude of sins; no one is perfect, perfectly symmetrical, nor does anyone actually live their Instragram-lovely life (but this is so hard to actually believe with some much visual evidence to the contrary). 

tl;dr? Changing a physical aspect of yourself can most definitely have incredible positive results. It can also lead down a path of misaligned self-judgement and an inability to accept improvement over impossible perfection. So what can we do? 

This is really the blog today. Valentines Day and some sappy personal story. Got your roses (sustainably sourced I hope), and your chocolate? Let’s go: 



  • Yesterday: Dr. Duncan makes plans to order lunch for everyone on Valentines Day.
  • 7:58am: Brittany, our MA,  brings in gift bags with the requisite Valentines candy (matched to everyones favorites), a face mask (self-care is important), and a baby succulent (seriously, the cutest). 
-Cue serious feelings of inadequacy-I-should’ve-gotten-everyone-something-I’m-normally-way-more-prepared-than-this and panic-

  • 8:00am: I name my succulent Miles and Anna names hers Franklin. We are starting a succulent army.


  • 8:03am: Perla, our RN, drops off chocolates at everyones desk.
-More panic-

  • 10:15am: I raid Whole Foods for roses and gifts. I can’t take it anymore I must show everyone I appreciate them. Dr. Duncan approves of a staff-appreciation-adventure-run. 


Aside from a bizarre level of self-programmed need to ‘Team Mom’, doing things (Love Language: Acts of Service) makes me happy. Happier than necessarily doing things for myself (like treating myself). Research validates this: ‘prosocial’ behavior such as buying coffee ‘forward’, volunteering at community events, or other social acts of kindness increases your own happiness more than pro-individual ‘treats’ for yourself.  

When it comes to treating yourself, remember that the intention is just as important as the treat itself. Decadent dessert? Yes. Do it. But instead of wolfing it down because you’re ‘treating yourself’ and have ‘earned it’, slow down and indulge. Enjoy it. Let it melt in your mouth. Associate the actual experience of the reward with having earned it, and don’t just check it off your preset list of what constitutes self-care. Same thing with retail therapy – make it about the experience. Luxuriate in the window shopping, in trying on those amazing shoes or the jeans that fit just right. What’s your sensory vice? Do you want to touch all the cashmere scarves? Look at all the sparkles in the jewelry section? Sip your small batch roast while people watching? Maybe the perfume counter is your jam. Whatever it is, make it count, don’t just check it off =). 

So this Valentine’s Day, show yourself some love (retail, relaxing, or otherwise), but also treat your family, friends, loved ones, community or the girl behind you at Starbucks as well.

Your brain (and heart) will thank you for it. 

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