Navigating the rapidly evolving field of materials for soft tissue reinforcement is challenging given the volume of clinically available options. Additionally, the current generally accepted classifications of these mesh materials confound the understanding of their utility by grouping disparate materials that have attributes overlapping category boundaries and that do not fully consider their clinically functionality. This review article highlights, from a materials science perspective, the most important attributes of these materials to improve the clinical decision-making process in the selection of the most appropriate features and design for the patient, surgery and clinical need. These characteristics include the physical attributes that directly impact the surgical procedure and immediate postoperative mechanical requirements as well as the post-implantation properties such as an adequate reinforcement time, strength of the resulting tissue and infection risk profile.
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