Breast Augmentation – Shaped Silicone Breast Implants
Form stable breast implants
Shaped silicone breast implants are also commonly known as “form stable implants”, “gummy bear implants”, “highly cohesive gel implants”, and “teardrop” implants. Three companies make form stable silicone gel breast implants that are FDA-approved for use in the United States: Allergan, Mentor, and Sientra. Early silicone gel breast implants from the 1970’s were made of silicone gel that was very thin, surrounded by very thin implant shells. The combination of thin, ‘runny’ silicone and thin shells created some concerns about the safety of those implants. Thicker silicone gel filler material was created in the 1990’s as a response to this concern. The round silicone breast implants available for use in this country today have thick (‘cohesive’) silicone gel in them. Shaped silicone breast implants, however, are different. The silicone in these types of implants is bonded together in a way that is different than in the typical round silicone breast implant. This bonding process creates silicone that is very thick and, in essence, like a gummy bear. An Allergan form stable implant is shown on the top right side of this page. Note that the implant is thinner in one area and tapers to being wider in another. The thinner area is the top of the implant, and the wider area is the bottom. One of the ideas behind this type of breast implant is that it maintains this shape when placed in an upright position behind the breast tissue. This may create a little more subtle transition from the top of the breast to the most projecting area of the breast than may be achieved with some round breast implants. Another potential benefit of form stable silicone breast implants is that, if a defect develops in the implant shell, the silicone is so thick and bonded that it does not leak. If scissors are used to cut completely across this type of breast implant, no silicone liquid leaks out. In that sense it is very much like a gummy bear.
Shaped silicone gel breast implants have textured surfaces. ‘Texturing’ is a process that makes the surfaces of these types of breast implants a little rough. It has been found that placing a textured surface on a breast implant allows some of the breast tissue to attach to the implant. Tissues do not attach to smooth implants, and most silicone implants used in the US today are round and have smooth surfaces. Texturing is very important for shaped breast implants, however. Shaped implants need to maintain their position in the breast. If a shaped implant were to rotate 90 degrees to the right, for instance, now the top thin area and the bottom wide area would be oriented incorrectly, resulting in an unusual shape to the breast. Rotation rarely happens, though, due to the texturing. Once a shaped implant is placed in the breast tissue, the textured surfaces promote tissue ingrowth into the surface of the implant, helping maintain correct orientation of the implant and minimizing the chance for rotation.
Profiles of form stable implants
There are different shapes, or profiles, of form stable silicone gel breast implants. Some of the shaped silicone breast implants are taller than others, and some have more projection (front-to-back) dimension than others. A taller woman with a longer torso may have a better result with a taller shaped silicone breast implant than a shorter implant. A woman with a short distance between her collar bone and the bottom of her breasts may have a better result using a shorter and more projecting implant. Dr. Kunkel and his staff will go over all of this with you when you visit. You will have an opportunity to look at round and shaped silicone and saline breast implants to help you understand the differences.
If the silicone is so thick, are the implants hard?
When you hold a form stable silicone gel breast implant in one hand and a round silicone implant in the other, the round implant may feel a little softer. When the implants are in the body, however, this difference is not very noticeable at all. Form stable breast implants typically result in very soft, shapely breasts.
Who is a candidate?
Almost any woman who is a candidate for breast augmentation is a candidate for form stable silicone gel implants. An FDA regulation is that silicone implants may only be used for breast augmentation in women who are at least 22 years-old. Shaped silicone breast implants probably work best in women who have some shape to their breasts. Women with almost no natural shape or volume may obtain a better result with round implants. Dr. Kunkel and his staff will discuss all of this in detail with you when you visit.