One of the most common complications in women undergoing breast implants is a capsular contracture, according to a new study.
Capsular contracture is when a “capsule” of scar tissue forms around medical or cosmetic implants. Scarring is a normal part of the healing process. In some patients, however, the scar tissue becomes unusually hard and contracts around the implant. The complication can lead to pain and discomfort and in extreme cases requires further surgery.
According to plasticsurgery.org, around every sixth breast augmentation patient suffers from some capsular contracture.
Previous research on capsular contracture has mainly focused on reducing bacterial contamination from antibiotic solutions. Less attention was paid to the inflammatory process, with the main inflammatory pathway, the arachidonic acid cascade, in the foreground. These pathways are influenced by the omega-3 fatty acids, which are mainly found in oily fish and dietary supplements.
To gain a better understanding of the effects of omega-3 supplements on capsule contraction, Italian researchers conducted an experimental study to determine whether omega-3 fatty acid supplementation affects capsule formation around implants in animals. The research is published in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
At 8 weeks of age, a group of 32 mice underwent plastic surgery. Tiny, bespoke 300 mg silicone gel implants were implanted in the mice. After their operation, the mice were divided into two groups of 16.
Custom made, round, smooth silicone gel implants of 300 mg (Mentor Corp.)
The treatment group received omega-3 oil daily and the control group received water.
After 12 weeks, the mice were euthanized and the implants removed. The implants and the surrounding fibrous tissue were harvested in one piece and the capsule thickness around the implants compared between the two groups.
The results showed reduced capsule formation in the treatment group, with the implants being thinner and more transparent than in the comparison group.
“The average capsule thickness was 205.09 μm in the omega-3 group compared to 361.63 μm in the control group. This difference was statistically significant (p = 0.0004), ”the report emphasized.
Implants with the surrounding fiber tissue (capsule) were harvested in one piece.
In addition, capsules from the mice supplemented with omega-3 showed reduced expression of the transforming growth factor (TGF) beta-2: a cell-activating protein (cytokine) that promotes inflammation. The decreased capsule formation around implants was likely due to decreased collagen build-up, the authors said.
The authors acknowledge that further clinical studies are warranted and suggest that people taking a similar amount of omega-3 supplements as the mice in the study would be “quite a dose.”
However, the results are encouraging for those seeking medical or cosmetic implants. Given the minimal side effects of omega-3 fat supplements, the authors said, “We believe that omega-3 supplementation is a simple and promising way to prevent or at least reduce capsular contractures after silicone implant surgery. This therapy could have a significant impact given the number of patients who undergo breast reconstruction or aesthetic breast surgery each year. “.
Source: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
March 2020 – Volume 145 – Issue 3 – P. 701-710 doi: 10.1097 / PRS.0000000000006553
“The effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the capsular tissue around the breast implants, plastic and reconstructive surgery”
Authors: G. Lombardo et al.