Within the last decade silicone implants were approved for use in cosmetic patients in the US. Slowly, they are becoming the primary choice of implants for cosmetic patients. In 2012 the first form stable highly cohesive “gummy bear” implant (Sientra form stable implant), was approved for cosmetic use in the US. Recently, however, Allergen’s Natrelle 410 breast implant and Mentor’s Memory Shape gel implants were approved for the purpose of breast augmentation in adults 22 and older and in women of all ages who are undergoing a breast reconstruction following cancer.
So what is the buzz about the “gummy bear” implants? The implants contain more cross-linking in the silicone gel than earlier models which makes it more cohesive, which in turn makes the implants firmer. When this implant is cut in half, the gel stays together. Therefore there is minimal risk of gel migration if the implant shell ruptures. Doctors sometimes refer to these implants as “Gummy Bear” implants because of their feel and consistency when held outside the body.
These types of implants have been available for years in other countries besides the United States. The pros of the new implant is they give a more anatomical-looking, natural result and they are less prone to wrinkling and visible edges that other implants may cause. How palpable the implant will be depends on the type of implant as well as the type and thickness of the tissues that will be on top of the implants. The skinnier the person the more palpable and possibly more visible the implant will be. Another downside is some women may not like the added firmness, and the implant requires a slightly larger incision. Not every patient is a candidate for these implants in regards to its firmness. All of these factors need to be discussed with the surgeon in order to be able to choose the best possible option.
Many plastic surgeons in the United States are not offering the gummy bear option to their patients because of cost, while others are mainly using them in the reconstructive arena, post mastectomy because of the natural anatomical results. It is my opinion that in the future more and more cosmetic plastic surgeons will be using these implants for primary augmentation. Since 2012 I have been using these implants, and it is my opinion that they are one of the best implants available, however because of several limitations they are not for everybody.
Breast implant surgery, should only be performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. There are many physicians performing these procedures without the proper training. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only board in plastic surgery recognized by The American Board of Medical Specialties. Be sure you check the credentials of your surgeon. Any surgeon that tells you this board certification is not important, is most likely not a plastic surgeon.