What is an implant?An implant is an artificial material that is implanted in the body and remains there for a long time or permanently. For example, implants for enlarging the breast are very well known.
Implants are artificial products that are introduced into the body for a variety of reasons. Medical implants replace or support certain bodily functions. These include, for example:
- vascular prostheses
- joint replacement
- Retinal implants
If body parts have been destroyed or if body parts are to be enlarged, so-called plastic implants are used. For example, implants for enlarging the breast are very well known. To monitor humans or animals, functional implants such as RFID chips are transplanted.
Function, effect & goals
Implants fulfill optical, functional or medical purposes and support various body functions or replace some functions completely. Nowadays, implants are already available for almost all regions of the body. Knee or hip implants can replace a function that the body can no longer perform. Breast implants, on the other hand, are mainly used for beautification. A very important role is played by the choice of material, so that the implant is not repelled by the body.
Often, plastics are used, but now also human tissue is implanted. Many implants have only been created in recent decades, including the pacemaker, which is used in all cardiac arrhythmias. A pacemaker consists of a housing with a battery, where a pulse is generated, which is then passed by means of a probe to the heart and there regulates the heartbeat. However, if the heart fails completely, it is possible to replace it with an artificial heart. However, it is not suitable for permanent use and can only remain in the human body for about nine months. Another important implant is the stent, which is used in narrowed vessels.
A stent is a small tube made of plastic net that you push into the tracks and that adapts to the veins. Patients who need to be given medication often receive a so-called port catheter, which is implanted under the skin. Thanks to this technology, the doctor has access to the bloodstream very quickly so that no injections need to be made. If the retina loses function, it is possible to use a retina implant. There are two different ways to do this: During an epiretinal procedure, the implant is attached to the retina, but the image itself is generated by a camera that can be found in glasses.
During subretinal surgery, the surgeon inserts the implant behind the retina, which makes it possible to restore eye function. If wear and tear on the joints is detected, endoprostheses are used, implants that remain permanently in the body. However, this is usually only the case if medication or physiotherapy did not bring the desired results. The surgery is relatively complicated here, as the surgeon must first remove the affected joint. Then the artificial joint is fixed and the condyle adjusted. The placement of a dental implant is relatively uncomplicated. This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis, general anesthesia is not necessary. A dental implant consists of two elements: a stem of metals and a head.
The surgeon first removes the gums and then makes a hole in the jaw. Then the shaft is inserted and the head screwed on. Mainly cosmetic aspects met a breast enlargement, but it is also carried out due to various diseases. Often a silicone pad is used for this purpose, which can remain in the body for several years. Newer methods use autologous fat to form a breast. Tissue is removed from the thighs or abdomen and subsequently inserted into the woman's breast.
After a mastectomy, a breast reconstruction with an implant is often performed. The implant is used either in front of or behind the pectoralis muscle, so it is important that the muscle can be maintained during an amputation. Before reconstruction, the physician inserts an expander into the chest to stretch the tissue. The actual operation then takes about six months. Implants do not always have a purely medical purpose. For example, RFID chips are small stores that hold important data about a person and are implanted under the skin.
Risks, side effects & dangers
Of course, an implant always carries different risks. For example, the transplantation of an artificial heart can lead to various physical complaints such as thrombosis, and it also increases the risk of a stroke. Patients with a stent usually have to undergo a new operation after a few years because the vessels can close again.
Normally, a port catheter will last around five years, but rarely can inflammation occur here or the catheter is rejected by the body. Possible thromboses can be treated with medication. If patients receive joint replacement, they will have to undergo several hours of surgery. Thrombosis and hematomas can occur. However, in most cases the side effects are minor and the majority of patients are satisfied with the new joint.
Breast implants are still associated with dangers. This can lead to pain or deformation that occurs when, for example, silicone leaks. Therefore, in this case, it should be carefully considered whether enlargement is really necessary.