3D-Printed, Natural Breast Tissue Implants: A New Era in Reconstruction?

Bedford Breast Center

Many women who overcome cancer consider getting breast reconstruction after mastectomy surgery but aren’t keen on the idea of getting silicone implants. In the future, women who want to reclaim their natural femininity may have a revolutionary solution to reconstruct breast tissue without the use of silicone.  

Thanks to innovative 3D printing and dedicated organizations like Lattice Medical, an improved type of tissue-regrowing implant called Mattise is in the works. As scientists usher in this new era of technological advancement, breast reconstruction will be able to produce new, safe, customizable, and organic results. While the technology is still in the research phase, breast surgeons are watching carefully to see if tissue-growing implants will become the breast reconstruction surgery of the future. 

This French company began its first clinical trial on50 female breast cancer patients in Georgia on July 1, 2022. The study is expected to be completed on October 31, 2025. No clinical trials have begun in the U.S. as of yet.  

How Do Tissue-Regrowing Breast Implants Work?

The Mattise tissue-regrowing implant uses a bio-absorbable shell formed and shaped to achieve each patient’s desired breast shape. Upon placement, a portion of the patient’s healthy tissue is inserted into the implant shell. That healthy adipose tissue gradually grows to naturally fill the breast shape. After several months, the bioabsorbable shell will be fully dissolved, leaving a naturally-formed breast shape from the patient’s own tissue.   

These absorbable implants don’t require ongoing upkeep or replacement every 10 years as silicone breast implants do.

Are 3D-Printed Breast Implants Biodegradable?

This hollow bio-absorbable implant is constructed of a similar material used in dissolvable sutures and is created to dissolve into the body within approximately 18 months. The tissue left behind after absorption contains no foreign material, as it’s grown from tissue taken from another part of the patient’s body. The tissue-regrowing implant serves as a safe, temporary shell to help shape the grafted tissue so it will grow into the desired breast shape and size.  

Benefits of Tissue-Engineered Implants

Tissue-engineered implants are thought by many to be the breast reconstruction of the future. Some of their greatest benefits compared to other options include:  

  • No long-term foreign materials 
  • No need for implant replacement surgeries
  • No risk of rupture or leakage 
  • Made of the patient’s own tissue
  • Customizable breast shape and size

Tissue-Growing Implants vs. Silicone Implants

While some women opt to reconstruct their breasts at the same time as their mastectomy surgery, breast reconstruction isn’t considered necessary. Either way, it’s important for each individual to consider all options available, and silicone implants are often the most sought-after choice.

Silicone offers an appealing quick-fix solution, but it is not without some risk. Furthermore, silicone implants do not last forever and may need to be replaced about every 10 years. Women, especially those who have conquered cancer, often forgo breast implants after reconstruction to avoid multiple surgeries and other silicone concerns. Patients may worry about implanting a foreign material inside their body, as well as the risk of the implants rupturing or leaking.

If the Mattise clinical trials are successful, tissue-regrowing implants may eliminate many of these concerns, offering a safe alternative and naturally full breasts without any long-term foreign material in the body.

Are There Any Breast Implants Without Silicone? 

Some women seeking breast reconstruction may prefer the aesthetic implants provide but don’t necessarily want to rely on silicone. Saline implants consist of a sterile saltwater solution instead of silicone gel; both types have silicone shells. While silicone implants are pre-filled before surgery, the empty outer shell of a saline implant is inserted into the breast area and then filled with saltwater once it’s strategically placed.  

Saline implants offer a comforting appeal due to their more natural contents but tend to carry many of the same risks associated with silicone implants. Both solutions can rupture and leak, produce scar tissue, or causing pain and infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, women can still safely receive these breast implants after reconstruction 

Can Breast Reconstruction Be Done Without Implants Now? 

For women who are interested in breast reconstruction after mastectomy but don’t want implants, a few other options are available. DIEP flap procedures are commonly used to remove healthy tissue from one area of the body and relocate it to the chest through either a tunneling or free-flap method. At Bedford Breast Center, we offer a proprietary breast reconstruction technique that does not require donor tissue from another area of the body. Our Goldilocks mastectomy and SWIM reconstruction techniques remove unhealthy tissue while preserving healthy tissue and skin, which is used to create a small, natural breast. Reconstruction can be done at the same time as a mastectomy to eliminate the need for a second surgery and recovery process.  

Tunneling procedures keep the original blood supply of the transplanted tissue intact while it’s surgically tunneled under the skin and placed at the site of reconstruction. Free-flap procedures remove the transplanted tissue from the body, disconnecting it from the original blood supply. The tissue is then surgically connected to an existing blood supply in the chest area.   

Discuss Your Breast Reconstruction Options With an Expert 

When people navigate their breast cancer journey, they are faced with the decision of whether to undergo breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Some may want to avoid further surgery, either combining their mastectomy with implant placement or opting out of implants altogether.  

With so many options, risks, and benefits to sort through, it can be difficult to know what the best personal decision may be. Speaking with a breast specialist is the most important step in better understanding the advantages of any choice and getting help with making a final decision. As new options such as the Mattise tissue-regrowing implant become available, we’ll be here to help you understand your options.

Our Beverly Hills Breast Cancer Specialists Are Here for You 

If you are interested in learning more about current options for breast reconstruction, we encourage you to contact Bedford Breast Center to speak to a compassionate specialist directly. We care about our clients and look forward to providing informative support through every decision on your journey. If you’re considering breast reconstruction in the Beverly Hills or Los Angeles areas, reach out to us by phone at (310) 278-8590, or schedule a visit on our website and allow us to help you with your next big step.  

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