Breast Implants

Information from to help you understand the differences between the various types of breast implants including advantages of each.

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There are three main types of breast implant available in the U.S. : saline filled, silicone gel filled (FDA  recently reapproved), and a new semi-solid silicone filled (often referred to as 'gummy bear' implants which has not yet been given a final approval). Each type of breast implant has unique advantages and disadvantages in addition to the issues they share in common related to the surgery itself and the fact that a foreign object will be semi-permanently placed inside your body.

Saline Filled Breast Implants
This type of breast implant has a less defined shape than silicone implants and is heavier than silicone. These properties lead to a less natural looking, feeling and moving breast. The fact that it is filled with physiologic saline solution is of comfort to some women who fear possible health issues with leaking silicone implants. This type of implant may be less likely to develop a hard scar tissue shell (capsular contraction) around it than silicone implants do.


Silicone Gel Filled Breast Implants
This type of breast implant has been through a number of stages of development. The FDA for a time did not certify the use of silicone implants due to safety issues. Exhaustive research around the world has led the FDA to again allow the use of silicone implants which it again considers safe. The newer silicone implants use a more cohesive gel that is less likely to move around the body if the implant in fact does leak. One major advantage of silicone implants is the very natural look they provide (as long as they are appropriately sized and positioned.


'Gummy Bear' Breast Implants

This newer type of cohesive gel breast implant can be considered an evolutionary rather than revolutionary product. It takes the increase in the cohesion of the silicone gel one step further, to the point that it approaches a 'solid gel' therefore the nickname 'gummy bear' implants. They are now widely available in many countries. In the U.S. they are still being evaluated by the FDA for final approval. Over time this type of breast implant may prove to be the most popular. This type of implant requires a slightly larger incision due to less flexible shape.


Other Considerations

The various type of implants all use a silicone outer shell so any issues with the shell material are almost uniform. Breast implants are becoming available in a wider range of shapes and sizes to allow for a more customizable and hopefully anatomically realistic look.

A new unanswered question that has come up is the existence of platinum in some implants. The significance and any associated health risk has yet to be determined.

Although a breast implant should not be considered temporary, it is also important that it not be considered permanent either. Most women will have to have subsequent procedures on at least one of their breasts at some point in the future due to such things as rupturing, leaking, capsular contraction, shifting placement, or other issues.


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