Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New studies on breast implants

Grow-your-own Breast Implants studies says.... A revolutionary technique using stem-cell research could soon allow women to choose breast enhancements made of living tissue instead of silicone.

Scientists have been able to grow human fat cells in the laboratory for the first time. They mentioned the breakthrough means patients could, in effect, grow their own implants.

The researchers they claim that, in the longer time, it may be possible to grow replacement organs for transplant surgery.

The target patients are cancer sufferers and others who need reconstructive plastic surgery. But the surgeon pioneering the technique, JM, professor of tissue engineering at the University, acknowledges there could also be a substantial cosmetic surgery market.

Doubts persist about silicone or saline implants which, despite technical improvements, can rupture or leak.

About 15,000 women had plastic surgery in Britain last year, up from 9916 in 2003, according to the Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons.

In the United States, about 6.2 million people annually need plastic surgery for medical reasons, mostly following the removal of a tumor. The same number have plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons.

Professor J. Mao has developed a way of isolating the patient's stem cells, culturing them into a fatty tissue mass, and then building it around a "scaffold" of the correct shape for breasts or lips.

He said he first took adipose stem cells from a human donor and isolated the fat-generating cells. These were mixed with a chemical, hydrogel, "that can be moulded into any given shape or dimension". Hydrogel consist with a lightweight material licensed for use in medicine.

"You mould them into the shape of the other breast or the missing portion of breast and, instead of implanting silicone or saline implants, we would use the stem cell-derived adipose implant," Professor J. Mao said.

The living tissue implants would not "wear out". And because they are derived from the patient's own stem cells, there would be no problem of tissue rejection, which can arise with tissue from a donor.

"The technique is also applicable for other soft tissue, including facial tissue for example the lips," Professor J. Mao said.

"Patients will have a choice - a stem cell-grown structure or an artificial implant."

But a number of issues are yet to be resolved. One is the question of how the mass of living cells can develop a blood supply to keep it alive once it is implanted.

Another is how to stop the cells from continuing to replicate once the operation is complete.

Scientists hope in the long term, that it will be possible to culture stem cells into complete organs, or parts of organs. This would allow transplants to take place without rejection by the patient's body.

More than 100,000 British women are estimated to have had breast implant surgery, although exact figures are difficult find out. Health fears circulated after a US study found that up to 70 per cent of silicone implants ruptured.

Many british women switched to versions using soya oil - discontinued in Britain in 1999 over leak worries - and saline.

In 1998 in Britain, the Government reviews found no evidence that silicone presented any greater risk than other implants.

There is growing unease in the medical profession at the level of interest in plastic surgery, which has been partly fuelled by TV programmes such as Nip/Tuck.

The British Association of Plastic Surgeons has said that the public obsession is leading to inappropriate referrals and encouraging poorly qualified surgeons to become involved.

200 years of implants

* Materials such as ivory and sponge were inserted into women's breasts to enhance shape and size in the 19th century.

* By the 1940s breasts implants were being directly injected with paraffin and silicone derivatives.

* Silicone gel implants were introduced in the early 1960s. Soya oil and saline versions have also been used.


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