What Exactly is Macrolane?
Macrolane is a breast-countour filler that is used in breast enlargement procedures. It is used as an alternative to conventional surgical breast implant procedures, it is also claimed that it is less invasive than breast implants. It has been available in the UK since 2008 and is marketed by pharmaceutical device company Q-Med. Enlargements of one cup size can be achieved through one injection that takes only 30-90 minutes to take effect, giving rise to the expression 'the thirty minute boob-job'. The procedure involves injecting stabilised hyaluronic acid into the breast, and then manually moulding the breast into the desired shape. The procedure is usually performed under local anaesthetic and afterwards the patient will have to endure some mild swelling and bruising and discomfort that will last a few days. The effects of the treatment are relatively short lasting (about 12 months) so further treatments are needed to maintain the desired results. Macrolane is based on Q-Med's unique patented NASHA technology (Stabilised Non-Animal Hyaluronic Acid) which has been used in over 9 million treatments around the world.
How is the treatment performed?
Macrolane is not just used for breast augmentation but is used for other body augmentation and contouring purposes including; buttock shaping, calf shaping, and muscle definition. It is essentially a cosmetic surgical tool. Procedures take place in a clinically clean environment and under local anaesthetic. It takes between 30-90 minutes depending on the amount of gel being injected. During treatment the Macrolane gel is injected into the top and bottom of the breast as well as the nipple to add all over volume and shape to the breast. Macrolane gel contains hyaluronic acid which is a naturally occurring substance in the body, the gel is naturally absorbed by the body so treatments need to be 'topped-up' in order for the breast augmentation effect to be maintained. Top-ups should happen about every 12-18 months but this depends on the person's metabolism.
What are the Costs?
One of the main downsides of Macrolane breast augmentation is that it is quite expensive. The price for the initial treatment will on average be around £3000. Your physician will set up a treatment plan with you should you decide to have follow up 'top-up' treatments every 12-18 months. Follow up injections will cost around £1000-£1500, again depending on how much gel you are having injected. This compares to a conventional breast enlargement procedure, which costs around £5000 and lasts around ten years. However the advantage of Macrolane treatment is that the filling material used is bio-degradable (it is absorbed gradually by the body) and the effects are a lot less permanent, meaning that you do not have to go through any further surgeries to have anything removed if you don't like the results. It is also carried out under local anaesthetic, further reducing the risks. The other advantage Macrolane has over implants is that there is virtually no scarring and the recovery time is much shorter, patients can leave hospital and go home the same day.
Are there any Risks?
The main active ingredient in Macrolane is hyaluronic acid which is a naturally occurring substance that already exists in your body, so it is easily absorbable. Allergic reaction to the gel and infection from the procedure are both very rare. Extensive trials since 2002 have shown no long term serious side-effects from using Macrolane and it was recently granted full European approval for use as a cosmetic treatment. However, surgeons do advise to follow the aftercare guidelines with the utmost care. Firstly, waterproof dressings must be worn over the injection sites for the first few days to ensure the wounds remain clean and infection free until fully healed. A good support bra needs to be worn at all times for at least a week after the injections as well. There have also been some reports of side-effects that patients were not warned about prior to surgery. For example there have been reports of patients' breasts becoming hard and lumpy several days after surgery and of breasts becoming uneven due to one breast reacting better to the gel than the other. And perhaps more worryingly there have even been suggestions that the Macrolane gel can cause something called a 'capsular contraction' which is an extremely painful side-effect where the immune system rejects the Macrolane gel which can leave the breasts very painful, hard and lumpy to the touch. That being said these possible side-effects are very rare and so far, have only been reported in a tiny minority of cases.