There has been a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of the cutely-nicknamed “gummy bear” breast implants since Sientra, the new kid on the implant block, made a dramatic entry into the market after receiving FDA-clearance for high strength cohesive gel silicone breast implants in 2012. Sientra’s entire catalogue is comprised of breast implants known as “form stable” or simply “gummy bear” implants. Allergan and Mentor received FDA-clearance soon after Sientra for their fifth generation form stable implants and have a much wider variety of implants for physicians to choose from.
So now that anyone who wants these implants can have them, the question on everyone’s mind (mine included) is: are these shaped cohesive-gel implants the best silicone breast implants?
Implant Comparisons: Five Factors
Let’s compare these to our current Natrelle cohesive silicone gel implants in terms of longevity, shape, softness, incision size and cost. Perhaps the easiest of these questions to answer is the last.
Cost: You guessed it. The shaped “gummy bear” breast implants are more expensive indeed. But what about the other questions? Let’s have a look.
Longevity: What a lot of people like about these implants is that they cannot leak. Since they have the consistency of the gummy bear candies, there is not an inner gel to leak out. However, what we don’t know is how age will affect these implants over the course of many years. They may have cracks or small fractures as their edges, because it’s unlikely that aging will have no affect on them at all . All material fatigues over time. But how long? It may be another 10 to 15 years before we have answer to this but many people do like that fact that they are more or less solid
Shape: There does tend to be less change in the shape of the implants with positional changes. I see this as both good and bad. If you want more fullness in the upper part of the breast, this may be good — particularly when you’re standing up. But if you want your breast implant to act like the normal breast tissue, you don’t want excessive fullness in the upper part of the breast when you’re upright. Sientra also says highly cohesive gel implants have less folds, or scalloping. I don’t find this to be a problem with our current cohesive gel implants, whereas it can certainly be a problem with saline implants.
Softness & Incision: Everyone agrees that these implants are a little firmer. Also, they do require a slightly longer incision. This means that these implants will have to be placed through incisions on the bottom of the breasts.
So, for me the bottom line is that these implants give women another choice. However, I don’t think any of us can say that these are better or worse than our current implants, they just cost more.
All the best,
David B. Reath, MD
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2012 and has been updated to reflect changes in the industry.