Types of Breast Implants
One important decision is which kind of implant to use for breast augmentation. There are two main types: silicone and saline. Both start with a silicone shell, and both come in different sizes and shapes to accommodate different anatomies. Another option may be fat transfer—not a single implant but a series of injections. Dr. Jensen will help you determine what is likely to work best for your body and your personal goals.
Keep in mind that the different types of breast implants are not lifetime devices, and surgery may be needed to replace them at some point.
Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone breast implants are filled with a silicone gel material that mimics the elasticity and feel of real breast tissue. While leakage and migration of the gel were significant problems in early implants, that risk is minimal with modern versions. Today’s silicone implants are made with a stronger shell and a silicone filling that’s more cohesive, less liquid.
If an implant does rupture, the gel remains in the body and surgery is needed to remove the implant. Since there may not be any symptoms of a rupture, regular screenings are needed to make sure silicone breast implants are intact.
These implants are pre-filled, so their shape isn’t adjustable once they’re in place.
Silicone implants are FDA-approved for women 22 and older.
Gummy Bear Breast Implants
Gummy Bear breast implants are a new form of silicone implant that have quickly become popular. More breast-like in form than traditional implants, they have a very dense, cohesive silicone gel filling that allows them to hold their shape and makes them less subject to rippling. The gummy bear breast implants have a teardrop shape that gives the implants their natural look.
Saline Breast Implants
Saline implants are filled with a sterile saltwater solution, either before they are inserted or during the surgery. Filling them during surgery means that only a very small incision is needed; it also means that adjustments can be made if needed to ensure that the breasts “match.” Saline breast implants have shown less incidence of rupture than silicone implants, and if they do rupture, the saline solution is simply absorbed by the body and eliminated naturally.
Saline implants are FDA-approved for women 18 and older.
Saline vs Silicone
Saline or silicone? There’s no one “right“ answer. Most people consider silicone implants to look and feel more natural. However, the risk of rupture—though small—is greater with silicone vs. saline implants. Saline implants are more adjustable once they’re in place, and they’re less expensive. On the “con” side, they may be more susceptible to surface rippling. You’ll want to consult with the surgeon to decide what is best for you.
Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation
Fat transfer is an increasingly popular option for those seeking a modest increase in breast size. Droplets of fat obtained by liposuction from the patient’s own body (usually through the belly button or from the buttocks) are “micro-grafted” into the breasts through special needles. The procedure takes longer than implant surgery because it includes the liposuction process, but recovery time usually is shorter for a fat transfer breast augmentation. The injections don’t go below the muscle, so post-procedure pain is minimized. And since the fat comes from the patient’s own body, there’s no potential for rejection or capsular contraction. Scars are barely visible as the fat is harvested and injected through tiny incisions.
Fat transfer typically increases breasts by one-half to one cup size per session. Multiple sessions of fat grafting may be performed to obtain the desired enhancement. Fat grafting can change your mammogram results, so this should be disclosed to your radiologist at the time of your exam.