Breast implants are no longer a rarity. Apart from being used for aesthetic reasons, they are also preferred by breast cancer survivors.
Today, there are two main kinds of breast reconstruction: silicone implants and flap surgery. Although flap surgery is more complicated because it involves a tissue flap taken from the stomach, thigh, or back, it is known for lasting longer and giving better results. However, silicone implants have several disadvantages, such as not being able to maintain body temperature in the cold for ten years or so.
According to a Guardian report, several startups have devised innovative solutions that can alleviate all of these issues. Lattice Medical and Healshape, two companies from France, andCollPlant, an Israeli company have developed 3D-printed models in this direction, which have many advantages over the current methods.
Alternatives to silicone
The whole implant is completely degradable, according to Julien Payen, the CEO of Lattice Medical, so after 18 months, you dont have any product in your body. On the other hand, Healshape, another company that works on a 3D-printed implant, is planning to start clinical trials in two years.
Stephanie Willerth, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Victoria, Canada, believes this is good news for those who suffer from the icy sensation that comes from silicone implants in cold weather. It's very exciting, she adds, because having a clinical application that physicians believe is beneficial for patients is crucial to the spread of the technology.
In the wake of recent events like the PIP scandal in the 2010s, when a major implant manufacturer was discovered to have used dodgy silicone in its implants, and the Allergan scandal in 2018, in which popular textured implants were linked to an increased risk of a rare lymphoma, we believe that replacing silicone with a safer material might be beneficial for patients.
Healshape is attempting to do this by using hydrogel to 3D-print a soft implant material that can be absorbed by fat cells in about six to nine months, according to CEO Yehiel Tal.
Lattice Medical, meanwhile, takes a different approach. Its product is a 3D-printed cage made out of a degradable biopolymer, which has a small flap that allows it to grow tissue to fill the cage while the cage itself is absorbed by the body.
If they prove to be safe, these new technologies may be used as breast reconstruction substitutes, and they may eliminate the constraints that come with silicones.