At the London Breast Meeting in September, Swedish medical device company Novus Scientific introduced a surgical mesh technology that could improve the outcome of breast reconstruction surgery.

The technology, known as TIGR matrix, is a resorbable synthetic surgical mesh created to be implanted in soft tissue where weakness may occur. It provides support and reinforcement as the tissue heals and regenerates. TIGR matrix is made from common polymers used in sutures and can be broken down in the body after three years. Its current focus is breast reconstruction and augmentation and abdominal wall repair (particularly ventral hernia repair).

TIGR poses an alternative to acellular dermal matrices (ADMs) for use as tissue expanders to stabilize the breast implant. ADMs are prepared tissue coming from human or porcine skin. However, the problem with ADMs is the cost due to the expansive tissue reprocessing and preparation that is required in the manufacturing of ADMs. TIGR requires a straightforward manufacturing process that uses polymerization to make the synthetic fibers. A major problem with ADMs is the unpredictable behavior once implanted.

ADMs are made of proteins that come under attack by enzymes. Each one has a different setup of enzymes so the time it takes to break down in the body is not predictable. TIGR, on the other hand, is designed to degrade over time and is made with two fibers, each having its own degradation timeline. This enables the mesh to change its mechanical properties (going from rigid to flexible) in order to support the different phases of healing. One fiber used has a fast resorption rate—becoming completely resorbed in four months. The second fiber has a longer degradation, remaining strong and flexible to allow cells attached to the mesh to remodel themselves into functional connective tissue. It is resorbed after three years.

TIGR’s structure is designed to boost tissue healing and regeneration. Porosity of the matrix allows for strength and cell deposition due to the open design of the fibers, which reduces the likelihood of microbes being trapped between fibers and the risk of infection. When compared in a retrospective study—researchers evaluated TIGR’s performance in cases where ADMs had failed. It was concluded that TIGR shows “potential” when used as temporary reinforcement in patients undergoing breast reconstruction or breast surgery revisions.