A local surgeon is championing the use of a new style of breast implant designed to lessen the risk of developing cancer in the immune system.
Oncoplastic breast surgeon Dr Neil Meulman has begun recommending nano-textured anatomical implants due to recent studies confirming a link between standard textured implants and anaplastic large-cell lymphoma [ALCL].
Dr Meulman is the first surgeon in Australia to recommend the newer brand of implant.
"There's been 78 reported cases of breast implant-associated lymphoma in Australia this year and of those cases, four people have lost their lives," he said.
"The textured prosthesis has raised plenty of eyebrows and when you consider that many patients are breast cancer survivors, the risk of developing another can cause them prolonged concern."
According to the Department of Health's Therapeutic Goods Administration [TGA], patients who receive standard textured implants have anywhere between a one in 1000 and one in 10,000 chance of developing ALCL.
Dr Meulman said the nano-textured implants have been specially designed to lessen the risk of chronic infection in the breast reconstruction process.
"It is thought that textured implants cause a form of chronic infection in the breast that leads to the development of lymphoma over a number of years," he said.
"Lymphoma has a tendency to develop anywhere between three and 14 years post-implant."
"Because of their smoother surface, nano-textured implants have a lesser risk of causing infection following surgery."
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Dr Meulman said the risk of breast implant associated cancer is lower in the United States than Australia because they tend to prefer the use of smooth-surfaced prostheses.
However, he said the preferred US model of prosthesis often causes capsular contracture, which results in the breast changing shape.
"The nano-textured implant has two tabs on the bottom that prevent the prosthesis from moving out of place," Dr Meulman said.
Dr Meulman experienced a month-long communication process with the TGA in order to gain approval for the use of nano-textured implants in operations.
"I had to send them a 300-page document to justify the safety of nano-textured prostheses and how they've returned promising results worldwide," he said.
"Since the initial approval, I've performed five to six operations using nano-textured implants."
Around 17,000 breast implant procedures are performed in Australia each year and require replacement every 10 to 15 years.
Dr Meulman hopes more surgeons will take his lead by switching to nano-textured implants.
"Most surgeons in Australia are still using textured implants and if they continue to use them, they should be more vocal to patients about the risks associated with them," he said.
"I'd advise women with textured implants to monitor their breasts closely in the years after surgery in case anything changes."