Breast implants

There may soon be another option for women who do not want standard silicone breast implants after a mastectomy.

The use of groundbreaking technology to create custom breast implants is becoming a reality. After years of research, trials of 3D printed breast implants are showing promise as an alternative to silicone or saline implants in breast reconstruction surgery.

This exciting future is on the horizon and women could have the choice of 3D breast implants that allow the growing of natural tissue over time.

What are 3D Breast Implants?

A French company, Lattice Medical, is now trialing 3D breast implants, called Matisse tissue regrowing implants, after six years of dedicated research. This technology will give women the option of bespoke breast implants that are customisable, safe and produce natural results. Breast surgeons are watching to see if tissue-growing implants will become an alternative for personalised breast augmentation in the future.

Made from a bio-absorbable shell, it is possible to shape the implants to meet what the patient desires. During the breast reconstruction, the specialist plastic surgeon adds healthy tissue from the patient into the shell of the implant. This is adipose tissue, which is found throughout the body under the skin and between the internal organs. It is connective tissue also known as body fat. Once inserted into the shell of the 3D implant, the tissue begins to grow and fill the shape of the implant naturally. The bio-absorbable shell starts breaking down after several months and eventually fully dissolves.

What Makes 3D Printed Breast Implants Break Down?

The hollow 3D printed breast implants are made from a material that is similar to dissolvable stitches. It acts as a temporary structure to give the grafted tissue the shape for it to grow into the desired breast size. It completely dissolves in around 18 months leaving no foreign material behind. The result is the patient has breasts made entirely of their own body’s tissue.

Custom Implant Benefits

The benefits of tissue engineered custom implants compared to other choices include:

  • No foreign materials left in the body.
  • No ongoing upkeep.
  • Made from a patient’s own tissue.
  • Not needing replacement surgery every 10 years or so as is often the case with silicone implants.
  • No risk of leaking or rupturing.
  • The shape and size are customisable to meet each patient’s desires.

Comparing Silicone and 3D Printed Implants

Many women choose to have a breast reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomy even though having implants are not necessary. However, it is important that women consider all their options, but silicone implants are the most popular choice today.

When suitable, specialist plastic surgeons do 3D imaging for breast surgery using Crisalix 3D imaging to simulate the results of different implant shapes and sizes. This helps a patient visualise how they will look after a breast reconstruction so they can choose the best shape and size to meet their goals.

Many women have concerns about having foreign material in their body as there is a risk of them rupturing or leaking and may need replacing after 10 years.

If the trials being run on the Matisse tissue growing implants are successful, they will eliminate these types of concerns. It may be possible to offer the ability to have natural breasts as a safe alternative without having any foreign material in the body over the long term.

Silicone Breast Implant Alternatives

Yes, there are currently silicone breast implant alternatives. Some women may not want to rely on silicone implants so they can opt for saline implants or a tissue transplant.

Saline Implants

Although not often used in Australia, saline implants are an option to silicone implants. While the shell of the implant is silicone, it holds a sterilised water solution instead of a silicone gel.

Silicone implants already have the gel in them before surgery. With saline implants, the surgeon inserts the outer shell during surgery and fills them with saltwater once they are in place.

While saline implants tend to feel more natural, they still have the same risks as their silicone counterparts. They can leak, rupture, cause pain, become infected and produce scar tissue.

Tissue Transplant

A tissue transplant is where your specialist plastic surgeon uses a tissue flap of muscle, skin or fat to reconstruct your breasts. The tissue can come from your thigh, tummy, back or buttocks.

This is known as a tissue flap reconstruction and there are two methods—pedicle and free flaps:

  • Pedicle flaps.A pedicle flap stays attached to its blood supply by moving it to the breast area through a tunnel under the skin.
  • Free flaps.The surgeon completely removes the free flap from its blood supply before reattaching and connecting it to the blood supply at the site of the breast reconstruction.

The main advantage of flap reconstruction is that the breasts are from natural body tissue and change size when a patient’s weight fluctuates.

Talk Over the Options with an Expert

When considering a breast reconstruction, talk to a specialist plastic surgeon about your options. They will discuss the advantages and any disadvantages of each one and recommend what will work best for you, including any new options such as 3D breast implants when they become available.

To discover what breast implants Sydney are right for you, contact Pure Aesthetics today to book an initial consultation with the highly experienced specialist plastic surgeon, Dr Steve Merten.