Is there more than one type of breast implants?

Breast implants come in different shapes, textures, sizes and fillers. The filler refers to the saline solution or the silicone gel (see above).

Breast implant shape: these can either be round or ‘anatomical’ (tear drop shaped). The round shape is the most popular shape although the anatomical shape is seen as more natural looking (open to debate).

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

The round implant is cheaper and can look just as natural as the anatomical model. It was felt that the anatomical shape looked more like a ‘real’ breast but that is not always the case. A lot depends on your body type, the amount of breast tissue you have and the type of procedure you surgeon performs.

The teardrop or anatomical implant is often viewed as providing a more ‘natural’ looking appearance than the round implant. But, that is not always the case. The teardrop implant appears to be oval in shape when viewed from the front and more volume at the bottom when seen from the side. This enables it to project in a conical fashion.

In the past, there has been a risk of teardrop implants ‘flipping’ over in the pocket. They are now created with a textured surface to prevent this.

Breast implant texture: they can either be smooth or textured. Smooth are as the name says whereas textured implants have a rough surface and feel rather like sandpaper. There is less risk of capsular contracture with textured implants although there is no concrete evidence to confirm this.

The smooth implant tends to have freedom of movement in the pocket whereas the textured one stays still. Smooth implants have a thinner shell and last longer whereas textured shells are thicker and are more likely to break.

Textured implants are firmer and can help protect against capsular contracture.

In respect of size; this is an important part of your treatment. You will be measured beforehand so that we can balance the size of your breasts with what you what like them to be. It’s about achieving a realistic balance between what you have already and what you would like.

During your consultation the surgeon will look at what type of implant, the size, the placement and the incision. He/she will also look at ‘nipple droop’: the amount of this will inform he/her whether you will require other surgery to reshape the breast such as breast uplift.

You need to bear in mind that although you are looking at bigger breasts and so a bigger bra size that implants do not come in ‘bra sizes’. They come in weight and volume sizes. Basically, the bigger the implant the greater the increase in bra size after your surgery.

You are probably looking at an increase of one bra size or letter after your surgery. So, if you were a 34B then you could become a 36B.

The fillers are the two types of solutions used in the implants. There are saline filled implants and silicone gel filled implants.

The saline implants consist of a firm, silicone elastomer shell which contains a saltwater or saline solution. This solution is very similar to the ones inside your body. The idea behind that is that if the implant breaks or leaks then this solution will be absorbed by your body.

If this does happen then the implant will deflate instantly. You will certainly notice this result.

The silicone gel implant is soft, pliable and produces a natural look and movement. This latest type of gel has a textured surface so will reduce the risk of hardening or capsular contracture. There is no confirmed link between silicone leakage and serious health problems such as cancer or connective tissue disease.

There is another type of silicone gel implant called ‘cohesive silicone gel’ implant. This is both strong and durable and contains several layers which helps to prevent against leaking. It also protects against rupture. If the shell does rupture then the gel will not leak out and the implant will retain its shape.

Basically, cohesive silicone is a much more solid form of silicone filler whereas non-cohesive silicone is a liquid type filler. It is also the most advanced silicone implant available.

Other advantages include the inclusion of a ‘shape memory’: this means it will return to its normal shape so no rippling or folding. It also has a natural soft appearance.

Another type of implant is the ‘Hydrogel’ implant. This implant has a double advantage in that it combines the safety of the saline implant with the benefits of the gel. It will simulate the appearance of a firm and supple breast and looks completely natural.

This implant is safe and if in the unlikely case of rupture the contents can be safely absorbed by the body.

If you require breast reconstruction surgery as a result of a mastectomy (breast removal) then there is the option of a reconstructive breast implant. This involves the surgeon using a tissue expander: this is a temporary silicone shell which is inserted under the breast tissue and gradually inflated with saline solution.

As the surgeon does so the expander stretches the skin which causes the formation of healthy new tissue. Once it has done it will be replaced with a permanent implant.

If you have had a single or double mastectomy then this can be performed as an ‘immediate’ procedure or a ‘delayed’ procedure. If you opt for the ‘immediate’ procedure then this involves breast implant surgery at the same time as the mastectomy.

The ‘delayed’ procedure is suitable for those women who have had a mastectomy but are still undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

A third alternative is to have reconstructive surgery without the breast implants. This is called ‘Tissue Transfer Surgery’ and involves the surgeon taking skin, muscle and tissue from another part of the body to construct a new breast.

It has been suggested that in the future surgeons may be able to grow fat cells and implant them into the breast area.

Breast Implants Surgery Guide Index:

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