Gummy bear implants promise to give breast augmentation patients a more natural look with fewer complications.
Form-stable implants, also known as gummy bear or teardrop-shaped 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.
Here are the pros and cons of this increasingly popular approach to breast enhancement surgery.
What are gummy bear implants?
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 design gives the implants a firm consistency and the ability to maintain their shape even if their shell is broken. These qualities, similar to those of an edible gummy bear candy, give the implants their unconventional name.
Compared to classic circular silicone or saline implants, gummy bear implants’ tear drop-shape offers a more natural-looking projection at the bottom, and additional tapering at the top.
The three biggest makers of cohesive gel implants — Sientra, Allergan, and Mentor — offer a variety of shapes to best suit patient’s needs.
The popular Sientra breast implants come in five shapes, while Allergan’s Natrelle Style 410 Breast Implants come in twelve shapes. The Mentor MemoryShape highly cohesive gel implants are available in six shapes.
As 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.
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 independent studies are need to definitively prove this claim. That aside, below are the qualities of gummy bear implants that squarely fall into the pro category.
- They hold their shape longer
As 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 the traditional silicone used in implants, highly cohesive silicone in gummy bear implants is a thicker material — though not quite as thick as gummy bear candies — 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 Rounder’s experience, the tighter molecular bonds of the high-strength cohesive gel help to ensure that the shell won’t collapse. This prevents 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 do not develop the fold lines that can put a strain on implants 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. This natural look is largely due to their round base and teardrop shape. This can make them more appealing than the rounded styles that have long been preferred by American breast augmentation patients.
- They may lower the risk of capsular contracture
It is normal for internal scar tissue to form around breast implants — they are foreign objects to the body, after all. However, issues arise when this soft scar tissue hardens.
Known as capsular contracture, this hardened and tight capsule around the implant is the most common issue both in cosmetic breast augmentation and breast reconstruction. Due to the unique makeup of gummy bear implants, capsular contracture is less likely.
Gummy bear implants: the cons
Few procedures are without their drawbacks. When it comes to the gummy bear implant, these range 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 price of this type of breast augmentation surgery is double the cost of certain saline implants, and that they’re almost always more expensive than their traditional silicone counterparts.
- They could move out of place
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) notes that shaped implants are more likely to rotate and shift after surgery. As these implants are created to be positioned in a specific way, shifting results in an unusual breast appearance and asymmetry. Shifting requires an additional surgical procedure to correct the implant.
- 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 implants.
- They’re relatively new
As pointed out by 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.
- 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.
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.
Scar Treatments After Breast Augmentation Surgery: Recommended Products
One of the downsides of gummy bear implants is that they require longer incisions than other implant options. Fortunately, there are a number of products that can minimize the appearance of post-surgical scars.
Users report that these transparent gel sheets are more comfortable and adhesive than other popular brands. ScarOut! is perfect for those tricky areas along the breast fold, and comes with zinc oxide tape to help secure the sheets in place.
This gel can be applied anywhere on the body and goes on completely clear — it can even be worn under makeup. Cimeosil’s medical-grade silicone must be applied twice a day to reduce the appearance of scars.
Embrace Scar Treatment sheets use medical grade silicone to hydrate and fade scars. It’s a good option if you’re a low-maintenance type of person, as it only has to be applied every ten days.
If you’re looking for an alternative to sheets or gels, this silicone stick is hard to beat in terms of portability and ease-of-use. Pro-Sil Silicone Stick is highly effective at diminishing scars — even those with abnormal shapes that sheets sometimes cannot accommodate.
While the price of this single gel sheet is a little steep, it’s your best bet if you’re concerned about hypertrophic scarring. Washable, reusable, and thicker than other scar sheets, Cica-Care is a medical-grade treatment for more prominent scarring.
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 getting 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.
» Ask a board certified plastic surgeon to help you determine whether or not cohesive gel silicone implants are the best option for your desired breast shape and size — use Zwivel’s online directory to schedule a consultation today.