BREAST IMPLANT INFO: Decoding the Language

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Maybe you’ve gotten a text from a friend that said something like this:
“Hey! Just went to my PS and finally scheduled my BA, with round Gummies! IDK, maybe at the last minute, I’ll goTeardrop?”

So- what’s happening here? Simply put, your friend went to her Plastic Surgeon (PS), and scheduled her Breast Augmentation (BA). She’s decided the type of implants she wants, are “Gummy Bear”(gummies)- also known as (AKA) “Silicone cohesive gel” implants.

Teardrops?” No that doesn’t mean disappointment or regret! She thinks she likes the Round shape, but may change her mind before surgery, and opt for the anatomically shaped, (teardrop shape) implant.
Whew. How do we keep up? With more choices than ever, and an ever-changing landscape, it can be a challenge.

Here’s some info to help you decipher the sizes, shapes, materials, and purposes of the various implants currently on the market – and help you stay in the conversation!

BREAST IMPLANT SHAPES & SIZES:
Basic Shapes:
  • ROUND: This shape is probably the most-frequently chosen. It can be filled with saline, silicone, or silicone gel. It is used for augmenting the breast, and for reconstructing the breast.
  • TEARDROP or ANATOMICALLY SHAPED: As the name indicates, this implant is designed to look, or “drape” as a breast would. The top of the implant remains relatively flat, and then expands or fills toward the bottom, like a teardrop.
Within the Basic Shapes, is another implant component that will relate to your choice. It’s called:
  • PROJECTION:
  • Another element of your choice. Projection refers to the profile the implant will give to your breast. Depending on the manufacturer and the materials used – an implant may structured in different ways to give you a different profile. For example, you might choose from among Low Profile, Moderate Profile, High Profile, or even Extra Full Profile. A High Profile implant may be smaller in circumference than a Low Profile one. The High Profile design will have more projection (will “stick out” more).
  • (** So much depends on the look of your natural breasts, the look you’d like to achieve, and what will look best with your body. This is why it’s so important to have a clear discussion with your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. And- spend time actually “trying on” the various implants to get an idea of what they will look and feel like.)
  • IMPLANT TEXTURE:  Implants have ‘texture’ too? Yes. The shell of the implant – the outer “skin” that holds what’s inside- can be Smooth, or Textured. This outer layer of the implant is made of silicone.
  • SMOOTH TEXTURE:
  • A smooth textured implant may move around within the pocket that’s been created for it. For this reason, it’s often thought to have a more natural ‘movement’ within the breast, and has a soft feel. It is, however, more prone to ‘rippling’ around the implant’s edge, which can sometimes become visible through the skin, or, be felt.
  • TEXTURED IMPLANT:
  • The rougher texture on the shell of this implant, causes it to “stick” in place more, so that the implant won’t move around. It may also reduce the chance of developing some of the scar tissue that leads to a common complication known as “capsular contracture.”

  • WHAT’S INSIDE THE IMPLANT?
  • This is where all the buzz has been lately. There are still two basic “fillers” for Breast Implants;
  • -SALINE – a sterile salt water solution, and
  • -SILICONE – a man-made substance used in thousands of products, in just as many ways. In Breast Implants, as described earlier, the shells of all implants are made of silicone. Implants can also be filled with Silicone Gel. An earlier form of silicone gel is still used in many implants. It provides a very natural feel to the augmented or reconstructed breast, but may disperse if the implant shell is ruptured.
  • -COHESIVE GEL SILICONE - or, “form-stable” silicone, is the newer form you’ve been hearing about.
  • -This is what everyone is calling the GUMMY BEAR Implant. Researchers have developed a silicone gel that provides a natural feel and appearance to the breast.The material is ‘squishy’- like a gummy bear candy. And, if the outer shell of the implant should rupture, the gel remains in place, and does not disperse or migrate elsewhere in the body.
** A special note here.  
U.S. government rules currently state that you need to be at least 22 years of age, in order to have Silicone Breast Implants for cosmetic use.

  • Now, the question you and your doctor will work on together:
HOW BIG SHOULD I GO?
  • What’s my “Max”?
  • What will look best for me?
We don’t think of this part of the process in terms of “how big can I go?” But rather, What will look best, and work best with your frame, your tissue, lifestyle, and overall appearance?
You already know about the different shapes and fillings. In general, the implant can be filled anywhere from a modest 120cc up to 800cc. (There are always exceptions, and custom cases.) You may change cup sizes and bra sizes in the process, but don’t get ‘stuck’ on what you imagine your ideal size will be. Look at lots of Before and After pictures, and make a very honest assessment of your current size and shape.
You’ll have lengthy discussions with your doctor, a few decisions to make, and from what our patients tell us- lots of fun making your choices!
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San Jose Plastic Surgeon