[By Germaine Chapman]
With the proliferation of breast augmentation techniques, some have made the cut while others have fallen short of the mark. We find out which options stand head and shoulders above the rest.
In the past year, breast enhancement has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. This year, French-made PIP implants, with unapproved industrial grade silicone gel, were used on women mainly in Europe leading to massive outcry when they were found be unsafe.
Around the same time, concern arose that the increasingly popular breast filler, Macrolane, could interfere with breast cancer detection during mammogram screening. This led the parent company Qmed to ban the use of Macrolane for the purpose of breast enhancement “until further notice”.
With such negative news, is the quest for the perfect pair of boobs becoming ever so elusive? Not so, according to consultant plastic surgeon, Dr Tan Ying Chien who has seen a steady increase in breast augmentation procedures at The Sloane Clinic Plastic Surgery Centre over the past year.
“There are other safe and effective methods to enhance the breasts. For instance, Natrelle breast implants used at my clinic have been very well-received by patients because of their natural shape and form as well as high safety standards.”
However, the rise of Macrolane was in part due to the fact that some women shunned the idea of having an implant, preferring to opt for more “natural”, less-invasive options. Apparently, there is now an effective alternative without the same risks.
“Women who wants a natural enhancement can consider Lipokit, the use of one’s own fat extracted from the body and re-injected into the breasts. While it can only give a moderate enlargement of the cup size, sometimes that’s all that is needed to restore the woman’s confidence,” explains Dr. Tan.
This “lunchtime boob job” is well received by ladies who are uncomfortable with the scalpel or the idea of permanent breast implants.
When asked about why Macrolane was removed from the market, Dr Tan Ying Chien explains, “The decision to withdraw this product was made when a study raised worries that the breast filler may delay the diagnosis of a breast cancer or cause a wrong reading of the breast x-ray. The filler company, Q-Med, is conducting follow-up research on this issue.”
So the question on everyone’s minds is: Will breast implants or fat transfer interfere with mammogram readings too?
Ladies who are looking at enhancing their cleavage can rest assured that the general consensus is that silicone implants andfat transfer do not cloud mammograms or affect breast cancer screening.
“Breast augmentation patients may be more aware of their breast health, and therefore more diligent about seeking medical evaluation when they notice any changes in their breasts. They also note that breast implants may help patients manually identify unusual lumps or masses in their breasts, and this may lead to earlier diagnosis” says Dr Tan Ying Chien.
However for those who are concerned, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the leading society of board certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic surgery, offers the following guidelines for women who have undergone breast augmentation:
Mammography Guidelines for Augmentation Patients
- Mammograms should be performed by technicians with experience in the displacement techniques required for better x-ray views of breast tissue.
- The presence of implants should be noted when making the appointment and again at the time of examination.
- Regular breast self-examination is useful and may be particularly effective as a method of early tumor detection when breast implants are present.
- Ultrasound is another technology that is highly useful in breast cancer detection.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), although expensive, provides the highest degree of accuracy and is unaffected by the presence of implants.
- Mammography is encouraged: for women over 40, every one to two years, according to guidelines from the American Cancer Society.
- Women with breast implants are encouraged to visit their plastic surgeons on an annual basis for routine examination.
It is also comforting to note that a 2001 study by the National Cancer Institute of 13,500 women with breast implants found that there was no increase in breast cancer, no increase in breast cancer mortality, and no breast cancer detection delays. A study of 3182 augmentation patients in Los Angeles County showed no delay in breast cancer detection and a significantly lower than expected risk of breast cancer after an average of more than 14 years with breast implants.
“The finding that augmentation patients overall appear to have a lower rate of breast cancer than other women certainly deserves further research,” says ASAPS President Robert Bernard, MD, of White Plains, NY. “While we don’t yet know what factors may be involved, future studies may yield important information that can benefit all women.”