You are in PORTALS Women's Imaging The Present vs The Future of Breast Implants Saline-Silicone vs Nanotechnology

The Present vs The Future of Breast Implants Saline-Silicone vs Nanotechnology

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Breast augmentation has become one of the most common cosmetic surgeries performed on women worldwide. In the United States alone, the number of women who chose to have breast implants increased by 39 percent during the past decade according to statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 296,203 women underwent breast augmentation in 2010, compared to 212,500 women in 2000.

The most common breast implants used in augmentation surgeries are based from either silicone or saline. Silicone implants use an elastomer silicone shell that is filled with silicone gel. Saline implants also use an elastomer silicone shell, but they are filled with a saline solution.

Saline implants require smaller incisions than silicone implants and leave behind less noticeable surgical scars after the patient has recovered. Women who receive saline implants typically report favorable results with breast size contour and feel compared to silicone implants. Still, a number of cosmetic issues can also occur when saline implants are used in breast augmentation. Saline implants are delicate and can ripple or wrinkle beneath the skin especially if the patient has a small amount of breast tissue before implantation. Silicone implants are a better option for a patient with thinner breast tissue because they offer more support to the existing breast tissue around the implant.

One common concern with both silicone and saline implants is their limited shelf life. Eventually some implants can wear out and leak fluid into the chest and cause a host of complications. Capsular contraction is also a common medical issue with implants. It occurs when thick fibrous capsules form around the implant and cause it to compress. This leads to pain and discomfort for the patient and can cause damage to the implant.

Silicone implants have also been linked by some researchers to an increased occurrence of systemic diseases and development of different types if cancer in women. Psychological issues can also result from breast implant complications and a patient's mental health must be taken under consideration before they can undergo any breast augmentation.

A research team led by Judit E. Puskas explored possible applications of nanotechnology to breast augmentation and relayed the findings of their research in a recent review published in a September issue of WIRE's Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology, “Breast implants: the good, the bad and the ugly. Can nanotechnology improve implants?”. Authors, Judit E. Puskas and  Matthew T. Luebers are both part of an interdisciplinary group that pursues research to reduce capsular contracture to help woman who suffers from such effect.  Lead editor Puskas, Ph.D., of the University of Akron thought that nanotechnology could be used to develop alternative breast implants and help reduce or eliminate potential complications that develop from using silicon.

Nanotechnology used in breast augmentation could be a step towards making implants from safer material that will last longer inside a woman's body because it would reduce the size of the components used in the implants. An added bonus is the nanotechnology could also be utilized as a drug delivery system. It could house drugs that fight breast cancer, for example, and deliver those drugs locally. This would improve the efficiency of the treatment in eradicating cancer cells and also reduce the side effects typically felt by a cancer patient when they undergo chemotherapy.

Dr.Puskas said:

“If successful, our material could be used for implants with drug delivery capabilities. We are hoping that this review will contribute to a better understanding of the controversial issues and motivate material scientists and medical doctors to work together to develop alternatives based on new nanotechnology for the women who opt for a device made of synthetic materials.”

Nanotechnology is seen as a potential improvement over silicon or saline implants because it does not carry the same inherent risks as those materials. If using nanotechnology can improve or enhance breast augmentation, many women will see a direct benefit from these advances since the number of women who choose to undergo this surgery continues to increase from one year to the next.

Consult plastic surgeons in California or in your area if problem occurs with regards to your breast implants.


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