When breast implants were withdrawn from the market temporarily, it was to investigate a possible link between silicone and breast cancer. Research has shown that there is no link, but now breast implants are being designed to go one better. Not only will breast implants not cause cancer, they may prevent it. New breast implants are being designed to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer in breast reconstruction patients. About one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and many of those women will have mastectomy, followed by breast reconstruction using breast implants. Unfortunately, cancer can recur in as many as one-fifth of women after “successful” treatment. This can mean successive treatments, additional surgeries, and risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body. So any way to reduce the risk of breast implant recurrence would be welcome. The new breast implant being developed at Brown University has a surface that seems to reduce the formation of breast cancer cells. The implant has a surface that researchers liken to a “bed of nails”: an implant that has 23-nanometer (0.00000091 inches)-high pimples. According to researchers working on the breast implant, these peaks might prevent cancer cells, which are relatively rigid, from attaching to the breast implant to share nutrients, and reduced the presence of a vital protein on which breast cancer depends by as much as 15%. On the other hand, healthy breast tissue cells were able to thrive on the uneven surface. These breast implants are a long way from human trials, but the concept has promise, and we hope to see it move forward. It is possible that the breast implants may also someday be available for breast augmentation in women with elevated cancer risk, which would reduce the concerns about breast visibility around the breast implant. If you would like to learn more about breast implants and breast augmentation in Philadelphia, please contact board certified plastic surgeon Dr. David A. Bottger for a consultation.