Gummy Bear Implants: The Pros and Cons
Form-stable implants — also known as “gummy bear implants” because they maintain their shape even if their shell is broken — promise to give breast augmentation patients a more natural look with fewer complications.
Gummy bear implants are constructed from highly cohesive gel silicone, with a layered silicone outer shell that’s thicker than the gel filling inside. This gives the implant a firmer consistency which is similar to the texture of a gummy bear. Compared to traditional circular silicone or saline implants, their tear drop-shaped also offers a more natural-looking projection at the bottom, and additional tapering at the top.
The three biggest makers of cohesive gel implants are Sientra, Allergan and Mentor. The popular Sientra breast implants come in 5 shapes, while Allergan’s Natrelle Style 410 Breast Implants come in 12 shapes. The Mentor MemoryShape highly cohesive gel implants are available in 6 shapes.
Gummy bear implants are a compelling option for women seeking a low-risk breast augmentation technique with a wide range of natural-looking shapes and sizes to choose from. But are they all they’re cracked up to be?
Because gummy bear implants are still relatively new to the US market (they were only approved by the FDA five years ago), the jury’s still out on whether or not this type of implant is a better option than its traditional round counterpart. Here are the known pros and cons.
Gummy Bear Implants: The Pros
There are plenty of benefits to gummy bear breast implants, with the most obvious one being their natural shape and durability. The creators of these implants tout that they’ll last longer than traditional options, but more studies need to be conducted in order to prove that claim to be true. That aside, below are listed the qualities of gummy bear implants that definitely fall into the pro category.
- They hold their shape longer: Because these silicone gel implants are made with a cohesive gel material, they are more likely to maintain their shape for longer periods of time. Unlike traditional silicone, the highly cohesive silicone in gummy bear implants is a thicker material — although not quite as thick as the gummy bear candies after which they’re named — rendering them less likely to change shape over the long term.
- They’re less likely to fold or ripple: According to Miami-based plastic surgeon Dr. Leonard K. Roudner, the material used in gummy bear implants creates a distinct shape, which does not migrate once placed beneath the muscle or breast tissue. Based on his experience, the tighter molecular bonds of the high-strength cohesive gel help to ensure that the shell won’t collapse, thus preventing any folding or rippling effects in the breast.
- They’re less likely to leak: Unfortunately, breast implant breakage and leaking is common, especially as women who have saline breast implants age. Cohesive silicone gel implants are less likely to leak because they generally will not develop fold lines that could put a strain on the material and cause a rupture. Additionally, these type of implants have a cohesive gel shell with a semi-solid interior, so the filling wouldn’t be able to travel very far. Overall, implant ruptures have been found to be less common with silicone gel than saline.
- They offer a more natural look: Cohesive gel implants are a popular choice among women who want more natural looking breast implants. That’s largely due to their round base and teardrop shape, as compared to the rounded styles that have long been preferred by American breast augmentation patients.
- They may lower the risk of capsular contracture: When the internal scar tissue surrounding the breast tissue forms a tight capsule around the implant, capsular contracture can occur. This complication is the No. 1 most common issue in both cosmetic breast augmentation and breast reconstruction. Due to the unique makeup of this implant, capsular contracture is less frequent.
Gummy Bear Implants: The Cons
There are, however, drawbacks to the gummy bear implant, ranging from a higher cost (when compared with traditional implants) to serious and possibly even life-threatening health risks.
- They’re more expensive: One of the biggest downfalls of this type of implant is its cost. Gummy bear implants cost between $6,000 and $12,000, depending on where you live and the techniques used. Plastic surgeons estimate that the cost of this type of breast augmentation surgery can ring up for double that of certain saline implants, and that they’re almost always more expensive than their silicone counterparts.
- They cause more prominent scarring: Gummy bear implant skeptic Dr. David B. Reath of Knoxville, Tennessee reports that because these implants require a slightly longer incision, they may cause more scarring. Dr. Reath also notes that this longer incision requires that the implants be inserted through the bottom of the breast, meaning there are fewer options for implant placement.
- They could move: The ASPS notes that shaped implants are more likely to rotate and shift after surgery, which can cause an unusual breast appearance and asymmetry. Due to their shaped orientation, improper positioning of the implant is possible, which requires an additional surgical procedure to correct.
- They may be associated with serious health complications: These highly cohesive gel implants are textured in order to help them maintain a proper position. Although there is little conclusive evidence in the field, textured implants have been linked to breast implant-related anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare disorder that arises from the capsules which surround the implants.
- They’re relatively new: As pointed out by Dr. Reath, just because they’re new doesn’t mean they’re better. Round silicone implants have long been the standard in breast enhancement plastic surgery, so there are fewer studies — especially long-term studies which measure results over time — to vouch for this new breed of implant.
Which Type is Right for You?
Of course, as with any cosmetic procedure, you should have an in-depth conversation with your plastic surgeon before deciding which type of breast implants are appropriate for your unique needs. If you are dead-set on having the formed or teardrop shaped implants, then gummy bear breast implants may be a better choice.
However, it’s important to note that there are other options available when it comes to shaped breast implants, such as structured saline breast implants. This option also offers a natural look and feel, but comes with a greater risk of rupturing, folding and leaking.
During your initial consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon, you’ll be able to determine whether or not cohesive gel silicone implants are the best option for your desired breast shape and size.
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