Breast implants could get a lift to make them safer
A silicone gel breast implant is shown at Mentor Corp. manufacturing facility in Irving, Texas in this undated file image.
Scientists have discovered a way to enhance the surface of silicone breast implants to make them less likely to be rejected by the body.
The research team, from the University of Manchester in the UK, says that one in five people with breast implants grow scar tissue that calls for more surgery due to pain and deformity.
"Some of the surfaces seen on implants today were designed originally in the 60s and 70s and therefore there is an unmet need for delivering the next generation of biomimetic breast implant surfaces," says lead author Dr. Ardeshir Bayat, of M-U's Institute of Inflammation and Repair.
This condition is called capsular contracture and it occurs when the body rejects a foreign object.
Springboarding on previous research suggesting that scar tissue is less likely to result from implants with textured surfaces, the research team created a surface similar to what the body is used to, such as the basal layer of the skin.
This provides a better environment for cells to grow on, according to the study.
"Importantly, the micro environment created by the features of a breast implant is critical for breast tissue cells to adhere to that surface and grow on," says Dr. Ardeshir Bayat.
He compared the surface of conventional implants to the face of a smooth cliff, noting that the cells need a terrain of their own dimension to properly interact with.
What's more, the enhanced surface could help reduce chances of inflammation, which can result in scarring.
The research team tested their new implants over the course of a week -- the period post-operation where patients are most likely to develop complications -- and concluded that cells reacted peacefully to the new surface.
The researchers acknowledge that more work remains to be done before they will be ready to appear on the market, although they predict that when they are they won't be short of demand.
Nearly 400,000 cosmetic breast augmentations and reconstructions occur in the US alone each year, and according to the researchers, the number is growing.
Their paper was published in the journal Biomaterials.
Options for breast enhancement using the body's own stem cells exist, yet a recent report published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery says the claims to that and other such cosmetic procedures using stem cells are unsubstiantiated.