What are gummy bear breast implants? Are they better than silicone breast implants or saline implants?
Gummy Bear Breast Implants vs Saline or Silicone?
Doctor Answers 30
Gummy Bear Breast Implants as Compared to Silicone Gel or Saline Breast Implants
Let’s start by defining each implant.
1. Saline breast implants are a silicone shell that is filled with saline at the time of surgery so they can be placed through very small incisions. However, they are prone to leaking the saline and as a result you can end up with a flat breast that requires implant placement. These implants are also prone to a wavy look also known as ripples.
2. Silicone gel filled implants are 4th generation implants that are a shell that is prefilled with a silicone gel. This gel is moderately cohesive or like a really thick glue or like a soft jelly. They require a little bigger incision, and have some ripple problems.
3. The gummy bear implants are the newest implant available. They are the so called 5th generation implants and are called highly cohesive implants because when you cut them they maintain their shape just like a gummy bear candy. They also have a shell that is usually textured to reduce scarring or capsule contracture around your implant. This is a problem that can cause hardening of your implants and is the number one long term problem with breast implants.
There are almost as many opinions as to which is the best implant but recent articles in the plastic surgery literature suggest that the Sientra gummy bear implants have the lowest rupture rate, and the toughest shell. They also have the very best warrantee.
The women I have spoken with, who have had both saline and silicone, all of them swear that the silicone feels much better. I can tell you that the gummy bear implants look and feel much better as well.
I hope that helps.
"Gummy bear" vs "regular" silicone gel vs saline
Advantages of silicone gel
- More natural feel than saline
- Reduced rippling relative to saline
- Longer implant lifespan (on average)
- Smaller incision (3 cm vs about 5 cm)
- Smaller cost ($5450 total vs $6750 total with silicone gel)
- Smaller risk of capsular contracture (excessive firmness of the implants due to scar tissue)
- No concern regarding safety of deflated implants (vs. postoperative MRI surveillance recommended by FDA for silicone gel)
Now let's look at "gummy bear" vs "regular" silicone gel. The difference is simply the level of cohesion of the implants. Regular silicone gel implants are cohesive (meaning that the silicone gel molecules stick together, unlike the molecules of salt water). Gummy bear implants are highly cohesive (meaning that the silicone gel molecules stick together even more than in regular silicone gel).
Advantages of "regular" silicone gel
Potentially smaller incision than "gummy bear" implants
Advantages of "gummy bear" silicone gel
- Reduced rippling relative to regular silicone gel. This makes very little difference in a primary (first-time) augmentation but is quite useful for secondary (redo) augmentations if the breast tissues are stretched out and thin.
- Reduced spread of silicone gel if the implant ruptures. We have an ongoing "experiment" in which I took an Exacto knife to a gummy bear and a regular silicone gel implant about three years ago. The regular silicone gel implant has spilled silicone up to a couple inches away. The gummy bear silicone has barely moved.
- Same cost as "regular" silicone gel.
Gummy bear implants?
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Silicone, Saline & Gummy Bear Implants - The Differences
The type of breast implant used is one of the most important decisions facing patients undergoing breast augmentation surgery. Recently, cohesive gel implants have been introduced as an alternative to silicone and saline implants. These implants which are also known as gummy bear implants have a higher density silicone gel with a greater number of cross links. The implants are shaped and texturized to maintain their position.
These implants have several advantages and are especially helpful in women with small breasts. Under these circumstances they are less likely to have ripples or develop capsular contractures. They are associated with a natural shape and high patient satisfaction rates. When these implants rupture, the silicone doesn’t migrate into the surrounding tissue because of the gels thickness.
Although gummy bear implants have several advantages they also have disadvantages, these include firmness and the maintenance of the same shape regardless of the patient’s positioning. In addition, these implants can rotate which causes malposition of the implant and distortion of the breast.
It’s important to realize that each patient has specific anatomic findings and unique aesthetic goals that effect the choice of implant. For this reason it’s important to discuss this decision with a board-certified plastic surgeon.
Gummy bear breast implants
Gummy bear breast implants are filled with silicone that is more cohesive than the currently FDA approved silicone breast implants. Silicone can be any consistency from similar to water to a solid. The consistency is varied by changing how many cross-links are between the silicone molecules. The gummy bear implants have 3% more cross-linking. The FDA approved silicone gel implants have a silicone consistency similiar to honey, it also very tacky like taffy. This type of silicone flows in the implant; that is, if the implant is placed in a different position, the silicone will flow to the most dependent area of the implant, pulled by gravity. The top of the implant will lose volume and "collapse"; there is rippling.
The gummy bear silicone implants are called "form stable" because the silicone does not flow, the shape of the implant remains the same despite changing its position; gravity has no effect on the silicone. Because of this, the top of the implant does not "collapse" and there is very little, if any, rippling. It also has much lower leak rates compared to silicone gel implants according to the data accumulated so far.
There are other differences -- the gels are round, the gummy bear is anatomic shape, etc. The implants are available through plastic surgeons that are participating in the FDA approved study. If you have additional questions about this type of implant, please feel free to call my office. You can find other plastic surgeons who are participating in the study by contacting Allergan. Mentor also has a form stable silicone implant. Hope this helps.
Gummy Bear Implants vs Round Implants - which is better
For the vast majority of women, standard round gel implants give the best overall look, cost less without the worry of rotation.
Think of Shaped implants mainly for reconstructive surgery.
Dr. Costanzo, Thousand Oaks, CA. Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Gummy bear implants
Gummy bear implants are the latest generation of cohesive gel implants. These implants have a higher gel density making them more firm than the standard silicone implants. The gel inside both types of silicone implants is thick and cannot leak into the body, however gummy bear implants are thicker than standard silicone implants.
Although there is a possible safety advantage, this can also be a disadvantage to patients because the breasts tend to look and feel less natural due to the implants holding their shape better. The implant will fall less naturally in the pocket of the breast, similar to issues found with tear drop implants. These implants are still unavailable for widespread use and are still under strict testing guidelines, but are expected to become more prominent in the market after receiving FDA approval.
Gummy Bear implants
"Gummy Bear" implants are silicone implants that have two particular features:
1) They are firmer and retain their form more so than the normal cohesive gel implants
2) They can be manufactured in a shaped form so that the implant itself has a more full lower pole, and a tapered upper portion, much like the natural breast.
These implants have their proponents, and currently are only available from physicians who participate in studies to examine their use. I personally do not use these implants, because I don't like having a shaped implant behind the breast tissue. These implants look LESS natural when patients are not in an upright position, because they don't move and flow with the normal breast tissue naturally.
Additionally, if the implant shifts, the shape of the implant may not be correctly positioned, and the most protruding part of the implant may end up in an area of the breast that should not have significant protrusion. I have personally seen this problem with shaped implants more than once when I have been asked to revise previous breast augmentations in patients who have received shaped implants, and so i do not recommend them.
Current "cohesive gel" implants are softer and more natural feeling, and particularly when they are smooth walled (as are the ones I use), they can naturally move around much like normal breast tissue would. MRI examinations of current round breast implants have shown that they achieve a teardrop shape once placed in the breast and in the upright position, but return to a round shape in the reclining position--this is just what should happen!
It is more likely that these "gummy bear" implants will have more use in breast reconstruction, where the goals of the operation, as well as the method of the operation, are significantly different than in breast augmentation.
Cohesive gel implants
"Gummy bear" implants refer to the new generation of cohesive gel silicone implants. The silicone in the implant is highly cross-linked making it into a thick gel - like jello or gummy bears.
The advantage of this type of implant is that if the shell ruptures, the contents won't leak out. The old silicone implants had a liquid silicone inside so if they ruptured, the silicone would leak out and cause a sticky mess, leading to local problems.
Mentor currently has 3 levels of cohesive gel implants on the market with varying levels of "jelliness." I find these implants have a more natural appearance, feel and movement when compared to the saline implants or old silicone implants.
They are more expensive than saline implants, but I recommend them to most of patients.
The term "gummy bear" implant can refer to one of two...
The term "gummy bear" implant can refer to one of two types of implants, depending on who you're talking to.
The new generation cohesive silicone gel implants, which are very commonly used now in the US, are sometimes referred to as the "gummy bear" implant because the new cohesive gel is different than the old silicone gel implants -- as the name implies, it is a more cohesive substance, and therefore is less likely to leak if the implant shell fails.
The "gummy bear implant" is also used to describe a "highly cohesive gel implant", which can be used primarily for breast reconstruction, as these patients have no remaining breast tissue to camouflage the implant.
In general, I prefer the standard cohesive gel silicone implants for most breast augmentations as I think they give a very natural look and feel, in particular if the patient is very thin or if we choose to place the implant above the muscle (these decisions vary based on the individual patient).
Patients can also obtain very nice results with saline implants as well, but it really comes down to sitting down with your doc and having a nice discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.