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Breast cancer patients reporting medical concerns over implants

Posted at 9:22 PM, Oct 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-25 21:23:54-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla— A plastic surgeon in South Florida says he’s getting more calls from women diagnosed or at risk for cancer who got implants and are now reporting serious health concerns associated with them.

This comes after the FDA on Wednesday requested that manufacturers add a black box warning label on implants to warn women of potential hazards.

“No one should feel guilty, you didn’t do anything wrong,” said Dr. Fredric Barr.

Dr. Barr, a plastic surgeon in West Palm Beach says for years doctors, plastic surgeons, and the FDA knew about risks of scar tissue contractions, infections, ruptures, and that implants didn’t last forever but it wasn’t until recently they are learning that patients could also become ill with anaplastic large cell lymphoma due to the implants.

“There’s no blood test, there’s no x-ray, the only way to know for sure is to take them out,” said Dr. Barr.

NewsChannel 5 first reported earlier this year Dr. Barr has made the decision to no longer perform breast implant surgery, instead of focusing solely on breast explants. It’s completely up to the patient on whether or not they get their implants removed, but Dr. Barr says for those who report symptoms of fatigue, swelling, redness, pressure and joint pain he highly recommends removal.

“The fact of it is the result afterwards is pretty amazing, it’s eye-opening, not everyone but we are seeing traumatic results in terms of some of those symptoms going away,” said Dr. Barr.

In 2003 Melanie Chaparro was on a cruise when she noticed some itching on her left breast. The mom of 3 had a double mastectomy and lumpectomy after several family members had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had allergen textured implants put in.

“It started with just being a little uncomfortable, which they said as things heal it would be uncomfortable and as a woman we are very good at excusing things away and moving on with our life,” said Chaparro.

Yet more symptoms continued to pop up. After visiting countless doctors throughout the country she was diagnosed with a primary immune deficiency. She had to quit her job as an ICU nurse and after more than 20 surgeries was still sick. However, after meeting Dr. Barr she believes she has an answer.

“Actually by accident, I stumbled upon something on Facebook and it had to do with primary immune deficiency and breast implants,” said Chaparro.

Dr. Barr has agreed Chaparro is an ideal candidate for breast explant surgery. Women who choose to have their implants removed can decide to either not put anything back in or consider a fat transfer breast augmentation.

After more than 15 years of pain and so many unknowns, Chaparro says she has a message to other women.

“If something with your body is wrong you need to say something, and if people aren’t listening continue to search for someone who will, you’re right, you know your body,” said Chaparro.

Chaparro says she plans to have breast explant surgery done early 2020.

Dr. Barr says if you experience any symptoms including breast swelling, redness, joint pain, fatigue or pressure with your implants to contact a doctor immediately to discuss your options.