Breast implants are composed of an outer silicone shell and are filled with either saline or silicone gel. When used for breast augmentation or reconstruction, they are surgically inserted into a patient, and cause a normal foreign body response to the implant. A fibrous capsule develops around the implant, sealing it off from the body’s tissues. In some patients, an abnormal reaction called capsular contracture may develop. The cause of this complication has not yet been completely elucidated, but involves an inflammatory reaction to the implant. Treatment options are limited, and the condition may worsen, causing pain and progressive deformity of the breast overlying the implant and potentially requiring removal of the implant.
A new technique that seeks to limit the inflammatory response to breast implants is currently being investigated and was recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. Researchers from the University of Bayreuth in Germany used silk coating on the implants and found that it acted as a bioshield, reducing the thickness of the capsule as well as post-operative inflammation. Although still experimental, these findings could potentially lead to beneficial applications in patients by diminishing the occurrence of certain complications in breast augmentation, such as capsular fibrosis and contracture.
If you’re considering breast augmentation, you should discuss risks and potential complications of breast implant surgery with your surgeon. These will vary depending on several factors including:
- type of implants: saline or silicone gel fill
- location of implants: submuscular (under the pectoralis muscle) or subglandular (under the breast)
- implant size
- implant shell characteristics: smooth or textured
Alternatives to consider in breast augmentation include round and anatomically (tear drop) shaped implants, different sizes and projections of available breast implants, and saline, silicone gel and highly cohesive gel “gummy bear” implants. For best results, choose a plastic surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), specializes in aesthetic breast surgery and has significant experience in performing the surgery.
Dr. Olivia Hutchinson is a board certified female plastic surgeon in NYC with a plastic surgery practice dedicated to aesthetic surgery of the face, breast and body. Her office on Manhattan’s Upper East Side offers a fully certified AAAASF Operating Room for the safety, privacy and comfort of her patients. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Hutchinson, please contact us or call us at (212) 452-1400.
Zeplin, P. H., Maksimovikj, N. C., Jordan, M. C., Nickel, J., Lang, G., Leimer, A. H., Römer, L. and Scheibel, T. (2014), Spider Silk Coatings as a Bioshield to Reduce Periprosthetic Fibrous Capsule Formation. Adv. Funct. Mater.. doi: 10.1002/adfm.201302813