Types of Breast Implants

You have decided to undergo breast augmentation surgery. Your head is buzzing with new information as you wait on your scheduled consultation with your doctor. Inevitably, you will consider the different types of breast implants available and what options are ideal for your breast implant goals.

Deciding to get your boob job presents a vast array of options regarding the size, composition, texture, shape, and incision site among others.

The majority of patients opt for breast implants in order to make their breasts bigger and fuller; however the reasons are not always solely cosmetic. Some patients require reconstructive breast surgery after mastectomy due to breast cancer, or other disfiguring life events, or after child birth and breastfeeding which can cause excess skin, droopiness and changes to feel.

The Food and Drug Administration imposed a minimum age requirement for breast augmentation patients of 18 for saline implants and 22 for silicone, since breasts can continue developing through the early 20’s.

Considering Breast Implant

Before the implant surgery takes place, patients typically have at least once consultation with the surgeon. This is the patient’s opportunity to convey their cosmetic goals with the surgeon and get their feedback, as well as ask any questions.

Breast Augmentation surgeries are typically performed as outpatient procedures, with the surgery itself taking a maximum of two hours. The surgeon makes an incision thought the areola, armpit, underneath the breast, or at the bellybutton, depending on the preferred incision site. A pocket is created either above or below the pectoral muscle in order to accommodate the implant. Once the pocket has been formed the implant is ready to be placed and the incisions can be closed using sutures or medical tape. Once the patient is cleaned up, the breasts are wrapped in gauze. Some patients may have drainage tubes which are removed within a few days.

Breast Implant Composition

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Saline? Silicone? Gummy bear?! As is the case with most implant composition, the outer “shell” is made of a silicone rubber elastomer with an additional coating to minimize the risk leakage in saline, silicone, and cohesive silicone gel, also known as “gummy bear” implants. All options of breast implant composition yield great results and both have their advantages.

Breast implants can be classified into two main categories: saline implants and silicone implants. During your first consultation, your cosmetic surgeon will explain in details the pros and cons of the different types of breast implants.

Saline breast implants

Saline breast implants are popular in the world of breast enhancement procedures for two distinct reasons. First, because they offer a less invasive incision site as the implant shell is inserted empty, then filled with saline fluid once in place. The second reason is the saline solution itself. A combination of sodium and water, saline breast implants are sterile. In the event of a rupture, it is immediately noticeable and perfectly safe, since saline is found naturally in the human body.

Saline implants are ideal for those patients concerned with visible scarring. Unlike silicone gel implants which are pre-sized, saline implants are filled once they are in place, allowing the implant shell to be inserted rolled up through tiny incisions. These ones up the incision site possibilities to techniques not available with silicone gel implants.

For example: the Transumbilical Breast Augmentation, AKA TUBA method. The TUBA method uses an incision made at the navel. The surgeon then tunnels up to the pectoral muscle and the implant shell is placed while empty, allowing for a much smaller point of entry. Once in place, the implant is filled with the sterile saline solution until the desired volume is reached.

Since saline implants can be filled to any size, they are sought after by patients who wish to correct asymmetry of the breasts, where breast are two different sizes. Since saline implants are adjustable, saline implants are ideal for correcting differently sized breasts.

No matter which point of entry is used, each implant can be filled once in place, and when performed by a skilled surgeon, each can be filled to different volumes resulting in much more symmetrical breast than prior to surgery.

Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone implants, the heavy hitters when it comes to breast augmentations. In 2015, silicone implants represented a whopping 80% of all breast implants and over 90% of implants used during breast reconstruction procedures. Accepted by the Food and Drug Administration for patients over the age of 22, silicone implants look and feel more like your natural breast tissue.

Prefilled to size with a soft “jelly-like” medical grade silicone substance, this kind of prosthetic is often recommended for petite patients or those with thinner breast tissue, who are generally more prone to rippling. Created to mimic body fat, silicone within the implant retains your natural body temperature, adding to the overall consensus that silicone implants are best for a natural looking and feeling breast enhancement.

Silicone implants greatly diminish the chances of breast implant rippling, the appearance of ridges on the outer perimeter of the breast, in part due to the silicone being able to retain its shape without the aide its shell.

Patients who opt for silicone implants require MRI’s every two to three years to ensure ruptures resulting in gel leaks have not occurred. Because of the cohesive property of the silicone, should a rupture occur, it is virtually undetectable since the breast never “deflates”.

Gummy Bear Breast Implants

Made of a more viscous silicone gel, the gummy bear implant is slightly firmer to the touch than its older cousin, the traditional silicone implant. Cohesive gel breast implants are nick named Gummy Bear because the texture is solid, similar to that of a gummy bear and are “form stable” which simply means they have the ability to maintain their form, even outside of the shell. The ability to retain its shape makes the anatomical or “tear drop” implant another possibility for patients seeking a more natural, anatomically correct breast implants.

Choosing the Shape of Your Implant

Round Implants

Round Oftentimes, a round implant behaves the most anatomically, even more so than the teardrop shape, which is widely believed to be the most anatomic breast implant option. Comparison studies have found when women are standing, the implants are similar. Unsurprisingly, teardrop breast implants assume an anatomic shape. This is hardly a groundbreaking revelation. In an interesting plot twist, the same study found round breast implants also assume the anatomical tear drop shape. Thanks in part to gravity, when a woman is standing, the implant is pulled down and, as seen in x-rays, both implants assume the coveted teardrop-shape and were found to be anatomic.

Round shaped implants respond to the forces of gravity and more closely mimics a natural breast. This is especially true when women with implants are lying down: round implants fall more naturally to the side similar to natural breast, much more so that the anatomic implant shape.

Breast Implant Shapes Infographic

The round implant has the added advantage of having less of a framework than the anatomic implant, so that in the event that the implant rotates, there is no visible change to the shape of the breast.

Teardrop Breast Implants

Patients seeking a more subtle, natural look may consider anatomical breast implants, usually referred to as teardrop breast implants, due to their unique shape which is fuller at the bottom and gradually tapers towards the top, closely resembling the shape of a natural breast. Originally created for patients undergoing reconstructive surgery, the tear drop implant is recommended to patients with little breast tissue who would not achieve a natural look with a round implant. Often enhancing the natural breast line, teardrop breast implants do not require any post-surgery massage. Doctors sometimes discourage patients from choosing teardrop breast implants because in the event that the implant rotates, the breasts become unnaturally distorted requiring re-operating the patient.

How know what Type of Breast Implants is the Best

Choosing What’s Best for You: by now, you have hopefully realized there is a lot more to your boob job than simply “wanting a full C cup”. Take into account your body shape, build, weight, and initial breast size when choosing the type of breast implant that is right for you. It is important that you accurately convey to your surgeon what you define as the ideal results, and keep an open mind to their suggestions on what size and shape will work harmoniously with your body. Also take into account your lifestyle, patients who lead a more active lifestyle should take this into account when weighing out options. Now that you have an idea of the types of breast implants available, let’s explore the different shape options available. Patients today can choose from round, anatomical, aka tear drop shaped, as well as choose from low, moderate or high profile options.

Both saline and silicone implants have their advantages and disadvantages. The best way to determine which is better for you is to narrow down your preferences. For example, patients with moderately sized breasts can choose both types of implants yet patients who don’t have as much breast tissue may benefit more from silicone implants as they provide a more natural look and feel with less chances of rippling. Your surgeon will be the best person to give you advice.

The final results will depend directly on the types of breasts implants chosen. For that reason, patients should understand the various options available out there that will help them make a solid decision. At Eres Plastic Surgery our experienced surgeons have performed breast implant surgery for patients from all corners of the globe. We can help you achieve results that are natural-looking and tailored to your needs.

The composition of your breast implants depend heavily on the results you desire. Anticipate the pros and cons of each possibility, and ask your surgeon any and all questions you have. The informed patient is the happy patient. The more you know going in, the more likely the result of your unique breast enhancement procedure will exceed your wildest expectations!