Health Watch -- New Implants

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A new kind of breast implant may offer women safer options.

Silicon breast implants have made news, with lawsuits alleging terrible health consequences that resulted from broken or leaking implants. As a result, these implants haven't been used for cosmetic breast augmentation in recent years. But a new kind of implant that's been popular in other countries may offer an alternative that doesn't carry the same health risks.

Doctors at UT Southwestern are beginning the next phase of a clinical trial of these new implants, which are made of a cohesive silicon gel. They're about the same consistency as a gummy candy. This consistency means they won't leak, even if the implant breaks. Silicon gel implants have been the most popular kind of implant in Europe and in Brazil for about a decade because they're not only safe, but they also offer good cosmetic results.

Dr. William P. Adams, a UT Southwestern plastic surgeon, says the new implants are made of a new kind of silicon with cross-linking molecules. That gives the implants a thicker consistency that helps them hold their form. The silicon gel provides a better shape, and the gel won't migrate to anywhere else in the body if the implant breaks. That makes the implants safer than previous kinds of silicon implants.

Results from a preliminary trial were positive, and doctors are currently recruiting patients for the next phase of the trial.

Dr. Adams says early results were better than for any other implants. These implants offer new options for patients who need breast reconstruction or for those wanting cosmetic surgery.

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Aug. 2004

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