Breast implants have evolved quite significantly since they were first introduced in the 1960s. They have gone from thin shells filled with liquid silicone that ruptured frequently and were thought to cause systemic health issues, to thicker shells filled with salt water that still ruptured but the salt water content was thought to be “safer” when a leak or rupture did happen. More recently in 2007, the FDA approved a newer generation of silicone implants. These newer implants had a silicon gel, not a liquid, and were thought to provide a safer and more cosmetic alternative to the older silicone implants. These implants were certainly a huge advance and the surgical results were tremendous. Little had changed since 2007 until very recently.
Today, we now have a new generation of silicone implants at our disposal. The gels have become even more cohesive. This means that they are thicker, hold their shape better, and if they were to leak, the gel wouldn’t go anywhere. These are what the media refers to a “gummy bear” implants and when you cut the implants in half, the gel is firm like a gummy bear. The outer shells on these implants have also been improved, further reducing the rupture rate to single digit percentages. Recent studies also show a significantly decreased capsular contracture rate than was seen with older generation implants.
Another recent addition to the available implants is the anatomic, or tear-drop shaped implant. These implants are designed to have more projection on the bottom and less projection on the top, helping to produce a more natural result and avoid that unnatural upper pole bulge that can be seen with round implants. These implants may offer better results in some patients, especially the very skinny woman.
So, modern science has produced some of the most advanced breast implants. Women now have a wide selection of highly cohesive silicone gels implants of many shapes and sizes. There are now 3 US companies producing these breast implants – Mentor, Allergan, and Sientra. Gone are the days of only one or two companies. This new competition between implant manufacturers will create a healthy environment of competition that will hopefully result in even better implants at lower prices – both good things for the consumer. With a broader and more comprehensive selection of implants, I am able to offer the best results for my patients.