Breast implants are commonly used to make breasts bigger and fuller during breast augmentation surgery. Implants are also often used for reconstructive purposes, especially with breast reconstruction following mastectomy – removal of the breast(s) as part of cancer treatment or prevention. It is important for women who are contemplating breast enlargement surgery to understand the different types of implants available.
1. Saline Implants
Saline implants constitute a silicone outer shell that is filled with a sterile saltwater solution. Some of these implants may be pre-filled before the surgery or inserted empty then gradually filled to the desired size later on. Saline-filled implants are available in a variety of sizes and may either have a smooth or textured surface. They are approved by the FDA for use in breast enlargement in women above 18 years of age. However, they may be used in women of any age with breast reconstruction procedures.
While saline implants result in a firm breast implant, it is important to note that they are more prone to rippling and wrinkling (which results in visible deflation) within the breast pocket.
2. Silicone implants
The majority of breast enlargement cosmetic procedures are completed using these implants. These basically constitute a silicone outer shell that is filled with a silicone gel solution. They are available in a variety of sizes and may either have a smooth or textured surface. This type of breast implant is FDA-approved for use in breast augmentation for women above 22 years and may also be used for breast reconstruction in women of any age. Unlike saline implants (which may be inserted when empty), silicone breast implants come pre-filled by the manufacturer. This means that a longer incision is typically required during the surgery. More so, implant rupture is silent and often hardly noticeable. This means that women who have this type of implant will need to undergo periodic imaging scans to ascertain that the implant is working correctly. On the pro side, silicone implants are less prone to rippling and wrinkling and often result in a softer and more natural breast feel.
3. Gummy bear implants
Gummy bear implants refer to a differentiated type of silicone implant that contains a highly cohesive gel. They are often also referred to as teardrop-shaped implants due to their shape (thin upper area gently sloping into a fuller and rounder base). Because of the highly cohesive and stable material that is used to create these implants, they tend to maintain their teardrop shape and are soft to the touch. This type of implant is common with patients who are looking to augment their breasts but without the extreme shape achieved by saline and regular silicone implants. They are approved by the FDA for use in women who are above 22 years of age. Because of their strength, these breast implants are less prone to rupturing and leakage compared to other types of implants. The downside, however, is that in case of leakage, it is much harder to detect any anomaly. Just like with regular silicone implants, the FDA recommends regular screenings to make sure that the implants are working as needed.
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to breast implants. The ideal type of implant will vary from one woman to the other based on factors such as body type, aesthetic desires, and personal preferences, among other factors.