Everywhere you turn, the media is talking about these new Gummy Bear Breast Implants. And from the buzz, you’d think these were the best things to hit Plastic Surgery in years and that they are going to change the breast implant world forever. But does the hype really live up to the facts?
To better understand what these are and how they differ from currently available options, let’s talk facts. First, the Gummy Bear Implants are simply silicone breast implants that are more highly cohesive than their predecessors. The more cohesive an implant is the more it tends to retain its shape when cut or damaged and the firmer it is. This characteristic is nice in that it leads to devices that are more “form stable” than earlier implants and so there is potentially less concern with form disruption. You can literally cut through the implant with a pair of scissors and the two halves will actually keep their shape.
But because these implants are more cohesive, they are also firmer than previous implants and more likely to retain a specific shape. Despite what you hear from the media, there are only two implants which actually fit this description: the CPG (Contour Profile Gel) from MENTOR Corporation and the 410 from Allergan Corporation. Both of these implants differ from previous devices not only in the fact that they are more highly cohesive but also that they are anatomically shaped and have a textured surface (as compared to the more commonly used smooth surfaced implant). This anatomic shape can be very helpful in cases where a woman has very little to no breast tissue and so would benefit from an underlying form which can then essentially create a breast shape. Examples of this include a woman with extremely small breasts as well as someone who has just undergone removal of her breasts for cancer. Under these two circumstances, having a firmer implant with a controlled shape can be very helpful in that the implant will ultimately create a breast shape where no shape previously existed. However, for the woman who already has a nice shape but simply prefers additional volume, there is really no need for additional shaping; the overlying breast will take care of that.
In addition, because these implants are shaped and textured, if they not placed correctly within the breast pocket, they can actually rotate during the early healing period and lead to a very unacceptable appearance. In contrast, the more commonly used smooth round gel implants will not cause problems if they shift since their rounded shape is even all the way around and there is no specific orientation. Also, several studies have demonstrated that the resulting breast shape from round implants actually appears more natural to blinded observers than that created by an anatomic shape. Anatomically shaped implants were actually introduced several years ago when I was in residency training. The only difference is that these early predecessors were not comprised of highly cohesive gel. My personal experience was that these devices were more challenging to work with because of this shaping and that the overall results (as documented in these studies) was no more natural than what were achieved with smooth round gel implants.
Another misconception being promoted is that these implants are less likely to leak if damaged because of their highly cohesive nature. In reality, there is probably a little bit of truth to this since they are more cohesive than what is currently available. However, if this difference enough to warrant placement of a firmer implant? Not necessarily. Keep in mind that the firmer the implant, the less natural it may potentially feel. I personally favor silicone gel implants for their softness as compared to the saline devices and am concerned that the firmer implants will actually lead to a more saline-like look and feel. And that is not a good result.
Finally, the most important thing you should know is that these implants are not even available yet. Some surgeons are claiming that they offer the new Gummy Bear Implants and that these implants are better than what is currently available. This is simply not true. The only two truly highly cohesive silicone gel breast implants deemed to fall under this nomenclature are still awaiting FDA approval and will be eventually released by both MENTOR as well as Allergan. Sientra, a Brazilian breast implant competitor is claiming that they have released their own option. However, despite what you read, this new device is technically not a Gummy Bear Implant.
In the end, I encourage you to separate the facts from the hype to better understand the type of breast implant that will truly benefit you. If you have very little to no breast tissue and need an implant to create a breast shape, then the Gummy Bear implants may be an excellent option. But if you already have a relatively good shape to your breasts and simply need more volumization or lift, then you’re probably a better candidate for the moderately cohesive round silicone gel breast implants that we are already using.
I hope this helps to clear up some of the confusion. If you have any other questions, please call or email me personally at [email protected]