An Update on Breast Implant Technology

By Dr. Paul J. Leahy, MD, FACS, Monarch Plastic Surgery | April 2020

Rebuilding a woman’s God-given breast using human-made instruments and materials remains one of the biggest challenges that a plastic surgeon deals with. The naturally beautiful shapes, contours, and proportions are often dramatically altered by the necessary treatments, particularly mastectomy and radiation. Though the human breast never defines who a woman is, it still is a meaningful part of feeling whole. The loss of breast symmetry can negatively affect the way that clothing fits, cause discomfort and skin irritation, and it impacts a person’s self-esteem – not to mention that it is a constant reminder of the breast disease they are fighting.

Biomedical engineers are constantly working with plastic surgeons to improve breast implant technology. We have come a long way since the first implants were placed in the early 1960s. Much of the public still assumes that all silicone implants are “bad” and that they leak and cause problems. This is not the case. The U.S.F.D.A. studied silicone gel implants for about 15 years in great detail and found no meaningful link between a breast implant and any medical disease. In the fall of 2006, silicone implants were re-released (with many design updates) for both cosmetic and reconstructive uses.

Silicone-filled breast implants are still the more commonly used devices for breast reconstruction, although there are several very good saline-filled implant options available too. We are always in search of the perfect implant for our patients.

Fighting Lymphedema Through Surveillance and Early Intervention 

By Jamie Wagner, DO
October 31, 2019

Many breast cancer patients have a lifelong risk of developing lymphedema, which is a buildup of fluid in soft body tissues that causes painful swelling.

Lymphedema occurs when lymph nodes are surgically removed, much like intersections being closed during construction. When this happens, fluid can’t move through the body and out because lymph system pathways are gone. If alternate routes can’t be found, then fluid backs up and the arm begins to swell. Patients who have had breast surgery, lymph node removal, or radiation are at highest risk for lymphedema, which can cause an arm to swell up to 4 times its normal size.