William L. Scarlett, D.O.’98, FACS, FACOS, FAACS, medical director of surgical services and chairman of surgery at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, PA, has obtained a patent that will ease the adoption of breast implants for cancer patients undergoing reconstruction surgery.
The patent is the culmination of a method he has been pioneering for the past three years in patients with post-mastectomy lymphedema. It utilizes low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to reduce swelling in the arm on the side where the lymph nodes were removed, thus eliminating the chance for scar tissue to constrict the area around the breast implant, a condition called capsular contracture. This in turn can cause the implant to become misshapen and hard.
The use of noninvasive laser therapy as a potential nonsurgical option for treatment of grades II and IV capsular contracture provides a groundbreaking level of comfort for patients.
“Capsular contracture remains one of the most common complications in implant-based breast surgery and is one of the most common causes of reoperation,” wrote Scarlett and his co-author, Jason D. Johnson, D.O.’06, in an article published in The American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery in 2015. “Noninvasive LLLT is a promising alternative as a nonsurgical treatment for grades III and IV capsular contracture. In most cases, both patients and surgeons observed significant tissue softening and improved breast contour after treatment with the LTU-904 laser, avoiding surgical correction.”
Scarlett observed the problem in a reconstruction patient who had undergone radiation therapy. He discovered the laser device not only reduced swelling but softened the implant. He embarked on the study after reaching out to the laser’s manufacturer, RianCorp in Australia, and the implant company.
After completing the research and application process, Patent #9,808,645, Laser Therapy for at Least One of Grade III and Grade IV Capsular Contracture, was granted on Nov. 7, 2017.
Scarlett is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He is a fellow in the American College of Surgeons (FACS), a fellow in the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (FACOS) and a diplomate of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons (FAACS). He recently contributed the breast reconstruction chapters for the book Surviving Cancer: Our Voices and Choices, compiled by Marion Behr, as well as An Inside Job: Healing Wisdom for Your Cancer Journey by Susan Apollon. At work on his first book, titled Demanding Compassion, Scarlett travels nationally teaching new techniques in breast reconstruction. He has also developed workshops for cancer patients to help them deal with the psychosocial aspects of cancer.