News & Features

All is not Vanity: New Cancer-Fighting Breast Implants May Give 'Enhancement' a New Name

By Samantha Johnson

Cancer-fighting breast implants It's estimated between 5 and 10 million women worldwide have received breast implants. Most get them for cosmetic reasons, many for breast reconstruction, and some for transitioning from male to female. Today, new implants are being developed that have the potential to give us a whole new reason to get them: cancer prevention.

Judit E. Puskas, Ph.D., and her team at the University of Akron won $100,000 from the GE Healthymagination Cancer Challenge to further develop their unique idea for an implant that would help fight infection, reduce inflammation and possibly detect and destroy cancer cells. The embedded medication within these implants will not only dramatically improve the process for breast cancer treatments, it will also be great news for women who have a family history of breast cancer and want to take extra precautions in order to prevent it.

But with every new innovation, concerns for safety and cost-effectiveness must be addressed.

  • These implants claim to fight infection, which only occurs in 2 to 4 percent of breast augmentation patients. During an implant procedure, plastic surgeons follow strict sterile techniques such as handling the implant less, changing their gloves often, and rinsing the breast area with solution that prevents infection. According to Dr. Alesia Saboeiro, following these high sanitation standards is what makes infection so rare, so the need for an implant that will fight infection is low.
  • The same idea resonates with the implants' ability to reduce inflammation. Inflammation of the blood vessels that run under the surface of the breast is common in about 1 percent of all augmentation patients. This condition usually requires no additional treatment and will go away on its own.
  • According to Saboeiro, one of the important things to consider would be whether or not the drugs in these implants will affect the entire breast or just the tissue immediately near the implant. Women who have implants are advised to receive regular mammograms, monthly self-examinations, annual physicals, an MRI three years after receiving the implants and an MRI every two years following that. These cancer-fighting implants would not serve as a substitute for regular screening, and although the drugs they are infused with will target and destroy cancer cells, it is not promised they would detect and destroy all cancer in the breasts.
By the age of 32, which is currently the median age of women who receive implants, a considerable number of women are approaching or are well into the cancer risk age group. If these implants prove to be both safe and cost-effective, it is likely that they may become the most recommended choice for women who seek breast augmentation in the future.

While these new and exciting developments are well underway, consult with a certified plastic surgeon for the safest and best choice for a breast augmentation procedure. You can find a qualified plastic surgeon in your area using our physician locator.

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