Background: Women with breast silicone implants may suffer from burns on the chest after exposure to the sun or after using a bottle of hot water, due to poor blood supply and thin skin thickness. Moreover, the heat transfer in the implant diffuses differently than in the breast tissue, which results in a different thermal profile along the breast. Thus, it is important to quantify and characterize the effect of the external heating on the silicone breast implant.
Methods: A numerical model based on the COMSOL software was developed and an In-Vitro system was established for quantifying the temperature changes and the heat distribution in the implant. During the lab experiments, the implants were placed on a heating surface with a steady temperature representing the human body (37˚C). The implant was externally heated either by a bottle of hot water or by exposure to a halogen lamp, which simulates exposure to the sun. Throughout the experiment the implants were imaged using a thermal camera.
Results: Based on the numerical model, the external heating penetrates deeper into the implant compared to the normal breast model. The results from the in-vitro experiments are well-correlated with the numerical model.
Conclusions: Thermal imaging is an effective non-invasive method for characterizing the thermal profile of different implants, which affects the interaction with the skin. The results of this study may have important clinical implications, such as choosing implant materials that would reduce the risk of burn.