Breast Implants 101 - Size, Shape and Texture Explained


During my Plastic Surgery training ten years ago, the FDA had withdrawn their clearance for silicone implants to be used for cosmetic augmentations over safety concerns if the implant were to rupture. Silicone breast implants have since become the most closely studied medical device of any kind and have definitively been shown to be safe, even in the event of rupture. In fact, the gel inside modern implants has the consistency comparable to “brie cheese” and do not change shape in the unlikely event of shell failure.

Today, over 70% of breast augmentations in the U.S. are done with silicone implants. What makes the surgery so appealing are the range of options available to patients in terms of the size, shape and texture of the implant. In years past, there was only one scale of implant sizes – meaning as the implant volume went up, they got wider. Today, for any given breast implant width, there can be as many as four implant ”profiles”, meaning how far the implant projects away from the chest wall. This allows the patient and surgeon to be able to choose an implant that exactly matches the patient’s desired breast size.

Although teardrop-shaped or “anatomical” implants have been available for several years, only recently have implants been introduced that maintain their shape over time. Although several brands are available, I choose to use Sientra shaped implants which I believe to offer the best combination of shape, softness and price. The main difference between these implants and the traditional round implant is the amount of upper breast fullness. Shaped implants are less full in the upper breast, creating a more subtle slope when compared to the fuller look provided by round implants. 

Finally, I use implants that are covered with a textured surface, which has been shown to decrease the chance of tightness of the tissue surrounding the implant.
Article by
Bel Air Plastic Surgeon