There are two basic breast implant shapes: Round and Teardrop. Understanding the differences in these designs is central to your implant selection.
Top is a round, saline Natrelle™ breast implant by Allergan. The implant shell surface is smooth. The implant is filled with air for illustrative purposes.
Below is a Natrelle™ round silicone gel breast implant by Allergan. This implant has a smooth shell surface and round shape. This implant is filled with silicone gel.
Round Breast Implants
The round-shaped implant is the traditional breast implant design and remains the overwhelming choice for women undergoing routine breast augmentation in the United States. Because of the widespread use of round breast implants, the attractive augmentations you see in fashion magazines and the Victoria's Secret catalog are most likely achieved with round implants. Round implants can create soft, round and nicely proportioned breasts. The availability of implants with a range of diameters and degrees of projection (see: Implant Dimensions ) provides great flexibility in fitting round breast implants to any woman's breast and body type.
A key advantage to round implants is that a soft, smooth implant shell can be used. The smooth shell is generally less likely to be felt than a textured shell. And, the smooth shell tends to cause less implant ripples, thereby decreasing the chance of visible implant rippling through the skin. Also, round breast implants tend to be more fluid in the breasts compared to teardrop implants. That is, when the patient is standing the implant assumes a teardrop shape as the upper part of the implant collapses and the lower part fills with fluid. When the patient is lying flat, the breast implant takes a flat shape and tends to move to the outside of the breast. These changes, between standing and lying flat, appear natural and tend to be the natural movement and position a natural breast takes. Saline filled and silicone filled breast implants are both available in multiple round styles.
Top is a teardrop shaped Natrelle™ saline breast implant by Allergan.
Below is a form-stable cohesive gel Natrelle™ breast implant from Allergan. The implant holds its teardrop shape because of the very dense silicone gel fill material.
All teardrop implants have a textured shell. The textured shell is necessary to promote adherence of the implant to the surrounding tissues to limit the risk of implant movement or rotation.
Teardrop Saline Breast Implants
Teardrop saline breast implants have been available for many years. These implants are also called: shaped, anatomical, dimensional and contoured implants. These implants are available in a number of designs that vary in the height, width and outward projection of the implants. The concept of a shaped, saline breast implant is logical. However, these implants have never been widely accepted for routine breast augmentation, though they are widely used for breast reconstruction in women that have had mastectomies.
The lack of use of teardrop breast implants for routine breast augmentation is due to a number of factors. First, a teardrop implant must have a textured shell. This is the case because a textured shell is important to help the implant stay in a good, fixed, upright position within the breast. Second, textured shells are more likely to be felt and to cause visible implant ripples, compared to smooth shell breast implants. Thirdly, in order for a tear drop, saline implant to maintain its shape it must be filled more and be more rigid, compared to a smooth, round implant. Therefore, the teardrop implant will be more firm than a round implant and be more easily felt and appear more rigid, especially when the patient lies flat. Finally, it is possible for a teardrop implant to move or rotate within the breast pocket. If this occurs, the breast can be misshaped. Round implants can and do rotate within the breasts, but, since round breast implants are symmetrical, rotation of the implant does not affect breast shape.
Teardrop Cohesive Gel Breast Implants
Teardrop-shaped silicone gel breast implants became available in the U.S. in the summer of 2012. These implants have been available outside the U.S. and at a few study centers around the U.S. for many years. These implants are designed to maintain their shape and are often called “form-stable” or “gummy-bear" implants. This silicone gel is thicker than the silicone in traditional round implants and can hold a definite shape. These implants are designed in a wide variety of teardrop shapes. For example, some are designed as “tall” ovals and some are “wide” ovals. Because of their silicone fill material, these implants are softer and less likely to cause ripples compared to saline filled teardrop implants. Because the cohesive silicone is firmer than traditional silicone, these implants will be more easily felt in thin patients, compared to round silicone gel implants.
Teardrop silicone implants are excellent devices and provide another great option for women. Since these implants are made in a variety of shapes, a greater degree of control can be added in fitting the implant shape and dimensions to a woman’s anatomy and desired breast shape. This control is especially useful in patients that wish to emphasize filling a certain area of the breast, such as the upper pole. In such a case, a shaped implant that is “taller’ than it is wide could be used.
Round vs. Shaped - We Are Here To Help
Breast implant selection is a complicated process and requires a detailed consultation that includes a discussion of your goals, a detailed examination, and a lengthy discussion.
Dr. Connall is experienced with the use of all types of the implants for breast augmentation. We think that round implants will continue to be the best choice for most women. However, in some patients shaped-silicone implants will be optimal.
Implant selection is a critical step in your breast augmentation experience. Be assured, we will spend all of the time you need to help you make the best choice.