What Is the Keller Funnel?
The Keller Funnel is one of the greatest advancements in breast enlargement surgery. But what is it actually? And how does it work?
Written by Patient Care Team Lead, Jonathan Corke , BN (Hons)
Published: Friday, 11 June 2021
Today, plastic surgeons worldwide now consider this tool the gold standard for inserting breast implants.
One of the most remarkable developments in breast enlargement surgery in the past decade looks remarkably like a pastry bag (and works in a very similar way).
If you’re considering breast augmentation, you may be wondering exactly what this tool is, why it’s so popular today, and why you should want your surgeon to use a Keller Funnel during your breast enlargement.
What is Capsular Contraction?
To understand the benefits of the Keller Funnel, let’s first discuss the more common complication related to breast enlargement surgery that’s addressed by this invention: capsular contraction.
A healthy body typically responds to any foreign object with an immune response, meaning the immune system protects the body from this unknown object. Surgical implants (such as breast implants and medical devices like pacemakers) are no different and cause the immune system to surround the object in a protective shell of collagen fibres called a capsule.
This capsule is basically made of scar tissue and will form around any breast implant, whether silicone or saline.
A capsule is a completely natural response to any implant and is nothing to be afraid of unless it shrinks or contracts. If this happens around a breast implant, this is called capsular contracture.
Capsular contracture compresses the implant, which distorts the shape and size of the breast. This can be very painful or uncomfortable for the patient. Capsule contracture develops most frequently around silicone implants within two years of their implantation.
Symptoms usually develop slowly, with patients first noticing an uncomfortable hardening and tightening of the implant.
The degree of contracture can be ranked on what’s called the Baker Scale. The severity is graded from 1 to 4, with a grade 4 contracture being the most severe:
- Grade 1: The breast appears normal and feels soft
- Grade 2: The breast appears normal but feels slightly firm
- Grade 3: The breast’s shape and size is abnormal and feels firm
- Grade 4: The breast’s shape and size is abnormal and feels hard and painful
Treatment for capsule contracture frequently involves the implant and sometimes the capsule being surgically removed from the breast. Medication is also sometimes prescribed to dampen the body’s inflammatory response.
Although there are ways to address this condition as it develops, severe capsular contraction can be complicated to fix and often recurs.
Evidence suggests the most common cause of capsule contracture is bacterial contamination of the implant inserted into the breast. This is exactly the reason the Keller Funnel was developed.
What Is the Keller Funnel?
The trouble with silicone implants and insertion begins with the fact that they are filled with silicone during production, meaning they must be inserted into the breast at their full size, unlike the less popular saline implants, filled after the shell is inserted into the breast.
Traditionally, without using a Keller Funnel, surgeons inserted silicone implants by squeezing, twisting, and pushing them into the breast with their sanitised and gloved hands. However, despite the rigorous disinfection methods of modern surgery theatres, this method still allows for some small risk of bacterial contamination of the implant as it comes into contact with the patient's skin.
The Keller Funnel is a simple device that goes a long way to reduce this chance of bacterial contamination. The funnel itself is made of a flexible, transparent film that becomes extremely slick when hydrated. This allows the implant to be placed into the body as gently as possible.
During surgery, the implant is dropped from its original sterile packaging into the Keller Funnel, used only once and produced in sterile packaging with a little bit of sterile saline solution (salt water). The small opening of the funnel (Then trimmed to precisely accommodate any size or shape of the implant) is placed into the incision. The implant is squeezed carefully through the funnel into the cavity within the breast.
What Makes the Keller Funnel So Popular Among Surgeons?
There are many reasons surgeons choose to use a Keller Funnel during breast enlargement surgery.
The funnel is a no-touch implant insertion technique meaning the implant does not come into contact with the patient’s skin or the surgeon's gloves at all. This not only reduces the likelihood of capsular contracture but also reduces the risk of infection.
It’s also been suggested that this more hygienic approach cuts down on the risk of ALCL cancer (a form of cancer associated with inflammation that sometimes develops after the implantation of one specific model of textured silicone breast implant).
All in all, the Keller Funnel promises better healing and recovery when compared to traditional breast augmentation without using the funnel and reduces the likelihood of future complications developing.
Furthermore, because the tip of the Keller Funnel is so narrow, the implant can enter through a much smaller incision, resulting in a smaller scar and, again, less chance of infection.
Plus, because the surgeon is not squeezing and manipulating the implant with their fingers, there’s also less chance of the implant being damaged during insertion, which further reduces the chance of future complications like the implant leaking.
As with any tool, however, the Keller Funnel has limitations. While it has the potential to reduce the probability of complications after breast enlargement surgery, there is still some risk that capsular contracture, infection, or other serious complications related to surgery can develop.
If you are still curious to learn more and find out if the Keller Funnel is right for your breast enlargement surgery, we recommend speaking with your surgeon. They will be able to specifically educate and guide you on all the treatment advancements that are right your you, your body, and your goals.
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