The Surgeon Minute

Newly Approved Implants Give Breast Reconstruction Patients a Natural Look

Newly Approved Implants Give Breast Reconstruction Patients a Natural Look

Advances in breast implants have made modern breast augmentation more exciting than ever, thanks, in part, to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the highly cohesive, anatomically shaped implants by Allergan. Dr. Patricia McGuire, a board certified plastic surgeon from St. Louis has been involved in clinical trials with these new implants for many years and has already performed hundreds of procedures. She’s found one set of patients who benefit the most from the technology: post-mastectomy breast reconstruction patients. With the hold and shape the new implants provide, replacing an entire breast, and keeping a natural looking shape, is now a reality.

By Patricia A. McGuire, MD
and Adam McMillon
ThePlasticSurgeryChannel.com

wp2 copyFDA Approves New Implant

In February of 2013, the FDA approved highly cohesive anatomically shaped implants by Allergan for use in cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery. The implants themselves are shaped like a breast and are made up of a gel that is very stable, meaning the implant will hold it’s shape securely. While these implants can be used by any patient, Dr. McGuire has one subset of patients that she thinks benefit the most.

“The best use in my opinion is in breast reconstruction,” says McGuire. “After a mastectomy, a woman has lost her entire breast. All that’s left is skin, whatever subcutaneous tissue the mastectomy surgeon leaves behind, the pectoralis muscle and an implant. The majority of their new breast is going to be an implant, so it makes sense that a shaped implant would affect the shape of a reconstructed breast.”

The Benefit of Shape

For breast reconstruction patients, the name of the game is just that: reconstruction of their breasts. The fact that Allergan’s implants are shaped gives surgeons an incredible foundation from which to work with in terms of providing a result that looks like a natural breast. With the stiff gel inside, the natural shape can be relied upon to hold shape for a long time.

“You can take the whole shell off of these implants and they’ll still hold shape; they can hold shape in any position,” describes McGuire. “When these implants are used appropriately, it really can affect the shape of a reconstructed breast. They help patients get a more natural look than just the round balls you sometimes see from breast reconstruction.”

The Answer Mastectomy Patients Have Been Waiting For

Another great bonus these implants provide is the ability for surgeons to properly size them to a patient. In the past, surgeons had fewer implants to work with, meaning they were more approximated to a patient’s dimensions rather than fine tuned. “These implants have two different heights and two different projections,” says McGuire. “It’s much easier to fit the implant to the patient, rather than make the patient fit the implant.”

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With these advances, breast reconstruction patients now have many options in terms of getting their breast back. Board certified surgeons have more advanced tools to remedy the trauma dealt by the battle with breast cancer. “Breast reconstruction patients are among our favorites,” says McGuire. “If I can make something good come out of this horrible situation that women have been put in, what more can we ask for?”

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