Permanent expanders have revolutionised breast reconstructive surgery, allowing one-stage procedures and the development of increasingly sophisticated implants (textured, anatomically shaped) has played an important role in enhancing the aesthetic outcomes. It is important to evaluate the tolerability of the implant. The aim of this present study was to evaluate the survival curves for McGhan Style 150 permanent expanders, in a consecutive series of breast reconstructions. Complications rates were also examined. Between April 1997 and May 2003, 107 McGhan Style 150 expanders (either full height or short height depending on patients' requirements) were used in 97 consecutive patients for a variety of breast reconstructive procedures. Overall, 46 devices were used for immediate reconstruction, 15 for delayed reconstruction and 46 for implant exchange, respectively. The mean age at implantation was 48 years (min: 26; max: 71). The mean follow-up was 60 months (min: 12; max: 72). Explantation was considered the most objective outcome variable, therefore this parameter was carefully monitored and then analysed using the Kaplan-Meier method of survival analysis. Different curves were compared using the log-rank test. Long term complications were also recorded. Among complications the most frequent finding was Baker 3-4 capsular contracture, occurring in 26% of immediate reconstructions at six years. Explantations increased in an almost linear fashion, with an overall rate of 25%, with a statistically significant difference among immediate reconstruction group and the implant exchange group. The rate of explantations was high, if compared with other series, because the sample included patients undergoing strong adjuvant therapies, particularly in the immediate group (locally advanced disease). The overall rate of explantations and of capsular contracture was found to be significantly lower in the delayed and substitution groups, than the immediate group (p < 0.05). In our hands, the McGhan Style 150 anatomically shaped permanent expanders were associated with acceptable results, especially when used as 'permanent prostheses' for second stage procedures. © 2006 The British Association of Plastic Surgeons.
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