In searching to find an alternative to breast reconstruction for mastectomy patients, a team of Australian researchers may have found a way to replace breast implants forever. The technology uses breast stem cells to stimulate a woman's body to grow new breast tissue. In the procedure, a sample of a woman's breast tissue is placed in a shaping structure similar in shape to a bra cup. The breast tissue is attached to blood vessels. The body then grows new breast tissue to fill up the cup. In the prototypes, a second surgery is then necessary to remove the cup, but researchers hope that in the next two years they will develop a cup that can be absorbed by the body, leaving only natural breast tissue.
The technique has advanced to animal trials, regrowing breasts on pigs in just six weeks. However, a prototype trial is set to begin in the next three to six months. Researchers are unsure how long it would take for women to regrow breasts because people stop growing at adolescence and it may take longer for growth triggers to be turned on.
Although this procedure has been studied for breast reconstruction, researchers mention that it could be used for breast augmentation as well. In the procedure, women would talk to their surgeon about how much enlargement they desired, and a custom-made scaffold would be designed to give women the size and shape of breasts they wanted.
Researchers believe the technology should be available in three years, but considering the number of challenges the technology faces, this seems to be optimistic. And it may be a long time before the technology gets approved in the United States.