Background: Acellular cadaveric dermis in implant-based breast reconstruction provides an alternative to total submuscular placement. To date, there has been no detailed in vivo human analysis of the histopathologic sequelae of acellular cadaveric dermis in implant-based breast reconstruction. Based on clinical observations, we hypothesize that acellular cadaveric dermis decreases the inflammatory response and foreign body reaction normally seen around breast implants.
Methods: Twenty patients underwent tissue expander reconstruction using the “dual-plane” acellular cadaveric dermis technique (AlloDerm). During implant exchange, intraoperative biopsy specimens were obtained of (1) biointegrated acellular cadaveric dermis and (2) native subpectoral capsule (internal control). Histopathologic analysis was performed. Masked biopsy specimens were scored semiquantitatively by an experienced histopathologist to reflect observed granulation tissue formation, vessel proliferation, chronic inflammatory changes, capsule fibrosis, fibroblast cellularity, and foreign body giant cell inflammatory reaction. Scores were analyzed statistically using the Wilcoxon signed rank test.
Results: Acellular cadaveric dermis (AlloDerm) had statistically diminished levels for all parameters compared with corresponding native breast capsules (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: This represents the first detailed histopathologic comparative analysis between biointegrated acellular cadaveric dermis and native capsules in implant-based breast reconstruction. These histopathologic findings suggest that certain properties intrinsic to acellular cadaveric dermis may limit capsule formation by diminishing inflammatory changes that initiate capsule formation. Further investigation is needed to determine whether acellular cadaveric dermis reduces the incidence of breast capsular contracture.