on July 31st, 2013 1 Comment
Women are choosing silicone implants twice as often for breast reconstruction after mastectomy than using their own natural tissue for the reconstruction, a Stanford plastic surgeon says. Both methods have their advantages and drawbacks, Gordon Lee, MD, told an audience at a Stanford Health Library lecture last week.
Implant surgery is simpler, shorter and produces good results, but the implants “don’t last forever,” said Lee, an assistant professor and director of microsurgery in the Division of Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery. Tissue surgery takes longer and requires more recovery time, but it can provide natural-touch breasts that last long-term, with the “two-for-one” benefit of a tummy tuck for some women as well, he said.
Given the 1-in-8 chance that a woman in the U.S. will get breast cancer, reconstruction is an important topic to many
Given the 1-in-8 chance that a woman in the U.S. will get breast cancer, reconstruction is an important topic to many. “Patients should get a choice,” said Lee, who does both kinds of surgery.
Tissue surgery has been refined and improved for more than 30 years, with multiple options available to women now, Lee said. The most recent improvements enable surgeons to build new breasts using fat and skin tissue removed from the belly while leaving most or all of the belly muscles in place. Refined microsurgery techniques have also let surgeons connect arteries to the transplanted tissue with more precision, improving results.
Still, about two-thirds of U.S. women have decided to get implants in recent years, while one-third have had reconstruction using their own body tissues.
Many women choose implants because the procedure is simpler, they can recover in 1 to 2 weeks and get good-looking results sooner. Implants are made with a filler of either silicone or saline. About 95 percent of Lee’s patients who get implants choose silicone because they have a more natural feel and don’t flatten if the implant shell breaks.
Manufacturers estimate that implants last 10 years, on average, before rupturing, whether they are silicone or saline, Lee said. For any one woman, though, the rupture can occur much earlier or later – as soon one year or as long as 15 years after reconstruction, for example. Even if an implant shell ruptures, a woman may not notice it, Lee said, because the silicone filler is likely to stay in place given that it is a cohesive material.