When considering undergoing breast augmentation, it’s important to know what you want your new breasts to look like.
Before your initial consultation, research the various shapes, compositions, profiles, and textures of breast implants. This will help ensure a productive conversation with your board-certified plastic surgeon about your goals and desired results.
There are two main shapes of breast implants to choose from: round and teardrop, aka gummy bear. Here’s a brief explainer of both.
If you’ve ever seen a breast implant in a television show, movie, or photograph, it was most likely a round implant. This traditional shape remains the most popular among patients, and resembles compressed spheres with the fluid-like consistency of saline or silicone. Round breast implants create soft, proportioned breasts with upper pole fullness.
Teardrop breast implants, which are often known as gummy bear implants, have grown in popularity in recent years. Form-stable, these implants contain a thicker silicone gel, ensuring a consistent shape. These have greater projection at the bottom, and taper at the top, leaving less upper fullness. Unlike the round implant, the gummy bear implant cannot be rotated or moved because it would create an unusual appearance. These implants also require longer incisions.
The composition of a breast implant refers to the filling, whether it be saline or silicone.
These breast implants are U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for augmentation in women older than 18 and are filled with sterile saltwater. This provides uniform shape and firmness. If the implant leaks, it collapses, and the saline is naturally absorbed and expelled.
Silicone breast implants feel the most like a natural breast because they’re filled with silicone gel. This type is FDA-approved for augmentation in women age 22 and older. If this implant were to leak, the gel may remain in the shell or move into the implant pocket, but the implant won’t collapse.
The surface of a breast implant can feel textured or smooth.
Textured implants have a rough surface, which enables them to securely attach to surrounding tissue. This ensures they’re less likely to move around and become repositioned. Although this may lessen the risk of a tight scar capsule, textured breast implants come with many risks. In 2011, the FDA identified a possible association between textured implants and the development of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. To learn more, read our blog, “Textured Implants: Are They Safe?”
Smooth breast implants are even and soft, enabling them to move freely within the breast pocket. This creates a more natural movement.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons defines a breast implant’s profile as “how much an implant projects forward from the chest wall when standing. Implants of the same size (cc volume) that have different widths will produce different levels of projection. Implants with a smaller base width provide greater projection as compared to implants with a wider base width.”
Ideal for women with wider chests, the lower profile is relatively flat in appearance, with minimal projection.
If you’re looking for a profile between low and high, you’ll want moderate. It looks the most natural and is great for women with smaller or narrower chests.
High profile implants are the most full and round, making them appear less natural on some patients. This type is ideal for petite patients with a narrow chest wall.