A 3-D Printed Implant Could Be a New Solution for Breast Cancer Patients

Kudos to some French researchers who have been recognized for their work in the world of breast implant innovation. Julien Payen and Pierre-Marie Danze of the Life and Health Sciences at Lille 1 University have developed a specialized breast implant for reconstructive purposes using 3-D printing.

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Unlike most implants used for reconstruction, this one is different in that it’s an absorbable shell-like structure that can contain injected fatty tissues without causing harm to the patient.

Old Lyme, CT, plastic surgeon Vinod V. Pathy, MD, says that, “Any time there is a new technology on the horizon, there is excitement as to the additional possibilities it can create. With the absorbable 3-D printed lattice shell that may allow for fat transfer, there is certainly more science to be studied. Yet, if this pioneering device can live up to its expectations, breast reconstruction patients can look forward to a whole new realm of fully customizable, natural implants in the future.”

Paramus, NJ, plastic surgeon Shwetambara Parakh, MD, adds that while 3D printing is a very interesting concept, if successful it will be a great addition to the available solutions for breast reconstruction. For many patients that learn that they carry the BRCA gene or that they have been diagnosed with breast cancer, a mastectomy is often performed. Following the surgery--and once you've been cleared by your doctor--breast reconstruction surgery is done, which makes use of your own tissue (fat) or implants. Either silicone or saline implants can be used, both of which can result in a natural look. "Lipofilling for breast reconstruction is currently used as an adjunct to soften the edges of the implant, using an absorbable matrix that can be fat grafted into will eliminate the concerns with using foreign implant material," she says. 

"Lipofilling for breast reconstruction is currently used as an adjunct to soften the edges of the implant, using an absorbable matrix that can be fat grafted into will eliminate the concerns with using foreign implant material."

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