It has been reported that breast implants have the greatest risk of complications and side effects of any medical device. What are the risks involved and can these be minimised through the latest technologies?
Breast implants are used for two reasons: reconstructive surgery post-mastectomy, or cosmetic to augment the size of the breasts. Typically breast implants are artificial and made of either silicone gel or saline. Complications with these prosthetic implants include rupturing and deflation of the implant and silicone implants have been associated with Connective Tissue Disorders and other illnesses resulting from the silicone gel leaking into the breast and migrating to other areas of the body leading to muscle spasm, muscle and joint pain, rash and hair loss.
New technologies for breast reconstructive surgery include nanotechnology and the DIEP flap. Nanotechnology is paving the way for scar-free results and safer alternatives to the traditional silicone rubber implants. An alternative already under use is breast reconstruction using bodily tissue to give a more natural look. Until now a TRAM flap was the main option and led to part of the abdominal muscles being removed resulting in a long stay and post-operative pain. A new surgery being offered to some women in the UK is a DIEP flap which, similarly to the TRAM flap, also results in a ‘tummy tuck’ but does not remove muscles and makes a smaller incision leading to less pain and a faster recovery period.