Breast cancer patients who undergo mastectomy and then breast reconstruction prefer silicone implants over saline implants, according to a new study.
The study, published in the online edition of the journal Cancer, surveyed 482 women who had breast reconstruction surgery with implants after undergoing double mastectomy. Of those women, 176 chose silicone implants and 306 chose saline implants.
“By the time women get to choosing the implant type, this is yet another decision in their treatment that they are faced with,” said Dr. Colleen McCarthy, a reconstructive surgeon in New York who led the study. “They ask, ‘What would you do? What do women tell you?’ We didn’t have the answers.”
Survey responses showed that women with silicone implants were more satisfied with their reconstructed breasts than those with saline implants.
“Women tell me it feels more natural and they prefer the look,” said Dr. McCarthy. “Both implants can wrinkle a little bit, but the silicone tends to wrinkle less. It’s about how the breast feels when she touches it, how she looks naked and in clothes.”
The study also found:
- Women who received radiation therapy after mastectomy were far less likely to be satisfied with either type of implant.
- Satisfaction with either silicone or saline implants diminished over time.
Dr. McCarthy noted that insurance reimbursement for silicone and saline implants is the same, and surgeons don’t have a financial incentive to recommend one type of implant over another.
“It also appears that patient satisfaction with postmastectomy implant-based reconstruction is generally high and that individual treatment variables — such as implant type — explain only a relatively small amount of the variance. Patient counseling should reflect these realities in order to reassure patients that high satisfaction may be obtained with both saline and silicone implants,” McCarthy added.