Most of my breast augmentation patients begin searching the Internet for information about breast implants, and qualified surgeons, long before they schedule their first consultation.
For women interested in learning more about available breast implant options, there is a great deal of information available, but how do you know if you are a candidate for the newer generation of shaped gels nicknamed “Gummy Bear” or “Form Stable implants”?
The first highly cohesive breast implants were designed over twenty years ago and until recently, only available in the United States to women enrolled in clinical trials. A small group of plastic surgeons, including myself, were involved in enrolling patients, following them, and developing the best practices that ensure optimal outcomes with theses implants. With any new device, there is a learning curve for the surgeon, and determining who is an ideal candidate for these implants is part of that experience.
There are currently three manufacturers who can market and sell these shaped gels in the US; Allergan, Sientra, and Mentor. Each version of these newer generation implants differs in their shells, gel cohesivity or thickness, and percentage of gel fill. Because the gel is thicker and relatively form stable, these implants can shape a breast not just add volume. Because of these characteristics, the Allergan Natrelle style 410 is particularly useful in situations where we need to change the shape of the breast, such as in patients with constricted or tuberous type breasts. The second group of women who may benefit from these implants are women with breast and chest wall asymmetries. Because these implants allow the surgeon to select the width, height, and projection independently, implants of different dimensions can be used on the right and left breast to improve symmetry. Each of the manufacturers offers different styles and shapes. Allergan currently offers the largest variety or matrix of sizes. Some of the Allergan 410 sizes are still only available through clinical trials, as required by the FDA. The final group that may benefit from the shaped highly cohesive gels are those women who select these implants because they are hoping for a more proportionate, natural look.
It is also very important that you seek out a plastic surgeon with experience using these implants in reconstructions, augmentations, and revisions. The steps taken to select the implant size and shape, plan and perform the surgery, and manage patients post-operatively, must be done with great precision. These implants are very different from round implants. If the surgeon doesn’t appreciate this, the results with be far from ideal. But for the right patient, in the hands of an experienced surgeon, the results can be predictable, beautiful, and most importantly, long lasting.