It is estimated that around 46 percent of women who undergo breast augmentation with silicone implants experience some sort of complication with the prosthetics within the first three years of their implantation. This is often due to the body “rejecting” the implants, and in many cases requires the replacement or removal of the breast implants entirely. But now, a team of scientists at the German company AMSilk are working to prevent this problem by developing a new kind of breast implant that better mimics the body’s chemistry.
The secret is in a manufactured “biosilk” coating developed by AMSilk for use specifically in medical implants. The coating starts out as a powder, which believe it or not is derived from E. Coli bacteria. The E. Coli is allowed to ferment, and once completely fermented transforms into a substance similar to silk. This substance can then be formed into liquid or fiber that the body recognizes as being similar to itself and is less likely to reject.
“The body sees this substance as just another protein, which it is already familiar with, so it just accepts this protein as part of itself and accepts the implant as it would natural breast tissue,” says Dr. Bruce Chau, a plastic surgeon from Berkeley, Michigan.
While the AMSilk implants are not yet available for sale, the company is beginning clinical trials in Austria. No stranger to implants, AMSilk already sold over 200,000 implants in 2016 alone. Their hope is that these new implants are safer and more comfortable for patients.
“It will be exciting to see how the clinical trials go, and if this is something that can be sold in the United States eventually,” says Chau. “There have been many attempts to perfect the breast implant over the years, but it hasn’t changed a whole lot. This could really make a big difference to a lot of women.”