What are the options for breast implants? There are two types of breast implants: silicone-filled and saline-filled. Both types have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These implants are basically shaped envelopes made of silicone and are filled with silicone gel or salt water (saline). Other types of breast implants are now being studied. This includes cohesive gel implants, also known as "gummy bear" implants due to their consistency.
What are the differences between round and contoured breast implants?
The two major types of breast implants are round and contoured (also called shaped, anatomical or tear drop). Contoured implants were designed to create a more natural-looking breast shape. They are flatter on top than the bottom, so if the implant rotates, a revision surgery may be needed. Some teardrop implants are textured to avoid this rotation. By contrast, round implants have circular mounds that are flat on the back and round on the front. They do not change their shape when you move.
How long do breast implants last?
The Institute of Medicine estimates that breast implants last an average of 16 years. Each breast implant is numbered by lot and has a serial number for identification. You will most likely receive the serial number stickers as part of your postoperative information packet. In general, such warrantees protect you in case an implant rupture occurs. They cover the replacement cost of the implant itself, which is only part of the cost of breast augmentation surgery. You may also purchase additional coverage with the implant company.
Can saline-filled breast implants harden?
Capsular contracture, which occurs when scar tissue forms around the implant, can occur with both saline-filled and silicone-gel-filled breast implants. This results in the hardening of breast implants. Learn more about the risks and treatment in our comprehensive article on capsular contracture.
What are the differences between smooth and textured mammary implants?
The surface of the outer shell of breast implants can be either smooth or textured. Textured implants have a sandpaper-like surface, while smooth implants have a balloon-like surface. There are pros and cons to each. Smooth implants move about freely in their pocket and usually have thinner shells than their textured counterparts. The thinner shell allows smooth implants to feel more natural. Implants with smooth surfaces are also less likely to ripple. Textured implants were designed to lower the risk of capsular contracture, but this has not been proven. One type of implant shape — known as the anatomical or tear-shaped implant — is only available with a textured surface, because this surface helps keep these contoured implants in position. What´s more, textured breast implants may take longer to drop into a more natural position than smooth implants, resulting in breasts that appear higher on the chest. Some of the differences in the implant surface characteristics depend on what they are filled with — saline or silicone gel. Discuss your concerns with your surgeon.
Are silicone-gel-filled breast implants safe?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an interim safety report in 2011 calling these implants relatively safe but stating that they were not meant to last a lifetime. Implant removal or replacement may be needed after 10 years.
What is overfilling?
Overfilling involves adding more saline to the breast implant than the manufacturer says is the maximum amount. This is only an option with saline breast implants, as they are filled after implantation. Saline implants come in a wide range of sizes, and all of them have both a minimum and maximum fill amount. Overfilling may make the implant feel firmer, but will not affect its size. Overfilling may also increase the risk of deflation, and may void your warranty.
Can breast implants rupture during a mammogram?
Yes, an implant can rupture during mammography. This occurs when the pressure on the breast weakens the implant. The older a breast implant is, the more susceptible it is to trauma. This is not a reason to avoid mammograms. Tell the mammography technician that you have breast implants, and he or she will take special care not to cause a rupture.