For our breast augmentation patients at Liu Plastic Surgery, learning about their implant options is one of the most important aspects of the decision-making process. Our skilled plastic surgeons offer a range of implant types to custom-tailor each breast augmentation to the aesthetic desires and needs of each patient. Since there are unique benefits to each type of implant, Dr. Jerome Liu and Dr. Tom Liu spend time to ensure that patients understand the advantages of each option.
In addition to making the choice between silicone and saline breast implants, our patients are presented with a variety of implant shapes and textures to provide options that can meet any individual’s cosmetic goals. At Liu Plastic Surgery, we offer all three major brands of breast implants: MENTOR®, Allergan, and Sientra®. Each brand offers an array of implant options, and our plastic surgeons will help guide you through the decision-making process. Dr. Jerome Liu and Dr. Tom Liu are committed to clear and open communication during one-on-one consultations, and to helping our patients make educated choices about their surgery and their overall wellbeing.
Silicone (Cohesive Gel) Versus Saline
Breast augmentation patients may choose between silicone gel or saline breast implants. Silicone gel implants have an elastic silicone shell and are filled with a cohesive silicone gel. Saline implants are made from an elastic silicone rubber shell and filled with sterile saline (saltwater).
Patients often prefer silicone gel breast implants because they can feel like, and resemble, natural breast tissue. Also, cohesive gel implants tend to have a lesser risk of rippling and are less palpable than their saline counterparts. Silicone gel implants come pre-filled from the manufacturer and usually require a 4 cm incision to place.
Saline implants are an excellent alternative to gel breast implants for patients who do not like the idea of using silicone. Although saline breast implants may sometimes be palpable, they can be placed through a slightly smaller incision (3 to 3.5 cm) because they are filled at the time of surgery.
Gummy Bear Implants (Form Stable Implants)
Officially named the Highly Cohesive Anatomically Shaped Silicone-Filled Breast Implant, the Mentor® MemoryShape™ and the Natrelle® 410 implants are the same type of implants as what’s known as “gummy bear” implants. They are silicone-filled implants that are shaped to anatomically resemble a natural breast. The teardrop shape of the Mentor® MemoryShape™ and Natrelle® 410 provides a very natural appearance to the breast. These implants are textured to help prevent the implant from shifting or rotating positions after your procedure. In addition, these innovative implants can significantly reduce the chances of post-procedural rippling, wrinkling, or ruptured. Mentor® MemoryShape™ and Natrelle® 410 implants were recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Gummy Bear Round Implants
Responding to feedback from surgeons and patients, breast implant companies introduced round gummy bear implants to the market in late 2016. Patients wanted an implant that felt natural and maintained more upper pole fullness long-term. In its smooth round format, gummy bear implants represent the latest in medical technology to produce a long-lasting natural result mixed with just the right amount of fullness. Currently, these types of implants are offered in two options: Allergan Natrelle® INSPIRA™ Cohesive and Sientra® HSC+. These implants offer most of the same advantages as their anatomically-shaped counterparts, but round gummy bear implants have one key difference: their round shape, which is designed to increase upper pole fullness in the breasts. Additionally, Allergan Natrelle® INSPIRA™ is launching its SoftTouch cohesive sometime in 2017. The SoftTouch will offer much of the benefits of cohesive gummy bear implants with a slightly softer feel.
The IDEAL IMPLANT®
With benefits similar to that of a silicone gel implant, the FDA-approved IDEAL IMPLANT® is a saline implant with a unique structure. Unlike traditional saline breast implants, the IDEAL IMPLANT® has an outer shell and inner shell, each containing saline solution. Between these shells, every IDEAL IMPLANT® has multiple baffle shells to control the movement of the saline solution, ultimately creating a natural feel and appearance than traditional saline implants. This innovative design minimizes rippling and improves overall implant performance. Since the IDEAL IMPLANT® is filled with saline, in the rare event of a rupture, the saline solution is safely absorbed by the body. Additionally, the IDEAL IMPLANT® can be placed with a small incision and is able to contour to the chest wall, due to its specialized shape.
Smooth vs. Textured
The surface of a silicone breast implant can be either smooth or textured. Since implant technology continues to evolve, the drawbacks of one surface versus another have greatly diminished. However, some cases still suggest that a textured silicone implant can reduce the risk of capsular contracture (a complication where the tissues surrounding the implant harden or tighten). All anatomically-shaped gummy bear implants are textured to lessen the risk of rotation and malposition.
Round vs. Shaped
The majority of implant options is round, and is particularly effective at enhancing the volume of the upper breast. Implants that are anatomically shaped, such as the Mentor® MemoryShape™ or Natrelle® 410, can often provide a more natural look. Most shaped implants are filled with silicone in order to achieve a more customized aesthetic.
History of Implant Safety
Silicone gel implants were temporarily removed from the market in 1992, leaving saline breast implants the only FDA-approved option. However, an extensive review of the available evidence by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science found no evidence linking silicone breast implants to any systemic diseases. As a result, silicone gel implants returned to the market in 2006 and have been increasing in popularity since then. The report is available on the Institute of Medicine website.
Silicone gel implants are FDA-approved for primary (1st time) cosmetic augmentation in patients over the age of 22. Saline implants are FDA-approved for primary cosmetic augmentation in patients over the age of 18.
Learn more about the overall breast augmentation treatment process here.