Perhaps no device in the history of medicine has gotten as much attention in the media as silicone breast implants. The latest discussions are focused on the so called “gummy bear” implants. Nearly every patient we see in the office for breast surgery is asking about them, so we would like to provide some information for anyone who may be considering breast surgery.
Gummy bear implants are highly cohesive silicone gel implants that maintain their shape, regardless of their position. This is in contrast to less cohesive silicone implants that are not form stable. Gummy bear implants are anatomically (teardrop) shaped to mimic the natural shape of the breast. They have a textured outer surface as opposed to the more traditional silicone implant that are often smooth and round.
These devices 1st became available as part of a study back in 2001. There are now 3 manufacturers with highly cohesive, form stable, textured, anatomic (i.e. “gummy bear”) implants. Mentor’s product is called the Memory Shape implant. Allergan’s product is called the Style 410. Sientra’s product is called the Silimed implant. There are some subtle differences between these devices, but they all share the characteristics outlined above of a “gummy bear” implant, including being form stable, anatomically shaped and textured.
The most important thing for patients to understand about “gummy bear” implants is they are not right for every patient. They are currently used more for breast reconstruction for women who have had a mastectomy (surgical removal of the breast or breasts) for breast cancer. For patients undergoing cosmetic breast enhancement, the choice of a “gummy bear” implant has some consequences that may not be desirable for some patients. One of the most fundamental differences between breast augmentation with “gummy bear” implants versus traditional smooth, round, less cohesive silicone implants is the feel and mobility of the breast. An anatomically shaped implant must be placed into a tight pocket to keep it from moving or rotating in order to maintain a proper breast shape. In contrast, a smooth, round implant is placed in a loose, open pocket to allow the device to move more like a natural breast. When properly performed, breast augmentation with smooth round silicone implants results in a very natural breast shape. The highly cohesive gel implants also feel a bit more firm than their softer, less cohesive counterparts.
In summary, the “gummy bear” implants certainly represent a technological advance in breast implant surgery. However, like any new technology, it may not be the best choice for every patient. We encourage you to discuss this option with your surgeon to help decide which implant will give you the best result.