Shaped (“Teardrop”) Breast Implants
Silicone gel breast implants in the 1970’s were made of silicone that was very thin, surrounded by thin implant shells. Thicker silicone gel was created in the 1990’s. Shaped silicone implants were developed to provide a subtle shape to the breast and are filled with this thicker gel. These implants are a little thinner at the top than the bottom, looking a bit like a “teardrop” (see the implant at the top of the page). The idea is that this shape may provide a soft transition from the chest to the top of the breast, and from there to the most projecting part of the breast.
The original versions of shaped silicone gel implants had thicker silicone gel than was available in round breast implants. However, in about 2015 this thicker type of silicone gel became available for use in round breast implants. Because this thicker gel is now available in round breast implants, and because of some concerns about textured surfaces on breast implants (described below), shaped implants are used much less commonly today.
Shaped silicone gel breast implants have textured surfaces. ‘Texturing’ is a process that makes the surfaces of breast implants a little rough. Placing a textured surface on a breast implant allows the breast tissue to adhere to the implant. Texturing is important for shaped breast implants. Shaped implants need to maintain their position in the breast. If a shaped implant were to rotate to the right for instance, the top thin area and the bottom wide area would be oriented incorrectly. That would change the shape of the breast. Texturing decreases the likelihood of this happening. Once a shaped implant is placed in the breast, the textured surface promotes tissue attachment to the implant. This helps maintain correct orientation of the breast implant.
While texturing certainly has its benefits, more recently an association has been made between textured surface breast implants and a very rare type of lymphoma. This is called Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requested Allergan, one of the companies that manufactures breast implants, to recall its textured surface breast implants in July 2019. Most of the women who have developed this process had an Allergan textured surface implant. Textured surface breast implants are used much less commonly today than in the early 2000’s partly related to this.
Profiles Of Teardrop Breast Implants
There are different shapes, or profiles, of teardrop silicone gel breast implants. Some of the shaped implants are taller than others, and some have more projection (front-to-back dimension) than others. A taller woman with a longer torso may achieve 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 implant.
Are Shaped Breast Implants Hard?
When you hold a shaped 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. Shaped silicone gel breast implants typically result in very soft, shapely breasts.
Candidates For Shaped Breast Implants
Almost any woman who is a candidate for breast augmentation is a candidate for shaped silicone gel implants. An FDA regulation is that silicone implants may only be used in women who are at least 22 years-old. Shaped implants may work best for a woman who has a very short distance from her nipples to the creases below the breasts (constricted breasts). Dr. Kunkel and his staff will discuss all of this in detail with you when you visit.