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Breast Implants

Could 3D Printing Create a Custom Breast Implant of the Future?

Woman at a plastic surgeon's office looking at different types of breast implants.

3D printing has made a big splash in the medical world, including the realm of plastic surgery. It has helped facial reconstructive surgery become more precise than ever before and made it easier for surgeons to create models for their client consultations. And the next way it could make a splash is by allowing plastic surgeons to print custom breast implants through 3D printing.

The Current State of Breast Implants

At the moment, there are two types of breast implants: silicone and saline. Generally speaking, these come premanufactured in set shapes and volumes. This gives clients some level of control over their final look, in that they can go bigger or smaller, or opt for a more rounded implant or one that is teardrop shaped.

However, the process is not unlike shopping for clothes at the mall. You may be able to get the look you are going for and can certainly be satisfied with the results, but you’ll need to try on a few sizes to make sure they will be the right “fit” for your body.

Why Customization Matters

In truth, for the vast majority of plastic surgery patients, standard implants allow them to achieve their desired results just fine. However, there are specific patients where breast implants made by 3D printing could have a significant impact.

Getting a customized implant can be important for some clients.

Women seeking breast augmentation as part of reconstruction after surgery or an accident could benefit from customized 3D printed breast implants. These individuals generally aren’t looking to improve their appearance; instead, they are trying to get back to where they once were.

3D printing could allow them to work with their plastic surgeon to customize their implants so they are a much closer match to what they naturally had than any mass-market implants could get.

The second are those with frames that are harder to match with traditional implants. For example, women with petite frames may need mini boob jobs to ensure their implants do not look strange on them.

While this can be done with the right mass-market implants, it is possible that results could be improved through customization.

Are 3D Implants Even Possible?

When we think about 3D printing of medical devices, we think about hard objects, like bone. So the idea that breast implants and 3D printing could go together sounds strange at first.

And depending on how you are thinking about implants, it might be. The 3D printed implants that are currently being designed look nothing like the implants we are all familiar with.

Instead, these implants are a 3D lattice shell which are hollow on the inside. Healthy tissue from the patient is then taken and placed inside the implant and the implant placed into the client’s chest. This tissue then grows and fills the shell, which over time, dissolves, leaving behind natural tissue.

But Is It the Implant of the Future?

Right now, these implants are in their early stages, and there is a lot of testing and long-term studies that are needed to determine how viable these breast implants made with 3D printing are. However, it is possible that before long, we will be utilizing customized lattice implants as much as we do silicone and saline ones.


Could 3D Printing Create a Custom Breast Implant of the Future?
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Could 3D Printing Create a Custom Breast Implant of the Future?
Dr. Lee B. Daniel of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Eugene, OR examines whether or not breast implants made with 3D printing are in our future.
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December 4, 2019
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