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Anatomical Breast Implants

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If you’re researching breast augmentation and considering taking the plunge, you may have read about anatomical, or teardrop shaped, breast implants. The shape seems to make so much sense for breast enlargement—should you consider anatomical implants?

Despite their shape, which mimics women’s natural curves and slopes, many plastic surgeons do not favor the anatomical shape over round breast implants. There are a few reasons for this.

A leading reason many cosmetic surgeons don’t choose anatomical implants is that they can become out of position inside the breast pocket, resulting in an oddly shaped breast. At least one cosmetic surgeon no longer uses anatomical implants at all, feeling that, “…in my opinion, [they] should no longer even be available to be used in any patients. All implants that are not round have a significant chance of shifting and with shifting or rotational deformity, comes a truly disfiguring appearance to the breasts that can be quite grotesque.” (Las Vegas Breast Revision 1).

Some surgeons also believe anatomical implants may lead to what’s called “fold failure” (Webplastics 1). What can happen is a gradual stretching of the bottom of the implant due to gravity acting on the filling—whether silicone or saline—leaving the smaller top portion of the teardrop shaped implant essentially empty. This can cause the implant’s shell to fold, and gradually weaken and rupture.

If you choose round implants to avoid these potential problems, will you end up with the “two rubber balls on a board” look? Not at all. In fact, achieving a natural look depends on these factors:

• Choosing the right implant diameter for your frame
• Selecting an implant volume and projection that looks natural
• Careful placement, usually totally or partly under the muscle
• Accounting for unique considerations, such as a “barrel chest”

Not only will round implants create more generous, natural looking curves for the vast majority of women, they also help to lend a bit of fullness to the upper portion of the breasts, called the “upper pole” by plastic surgeons. This effect yields the enhanced, youthful cleavage many women want while still preserving a natural slope to the chest wall.

Anatomical implants are appropriate for some women. One plastic surgeon notes that they can be a good choice for breast reconstruction when a patient has scant natural tissue left (Breasts Made Beautiful 1). But if you’re seeking rather straightforward breast augmentation and your prospective cosmetic surgeon recommends round implants, know that this is the norm today for most breast enlargement operations.

“Teardrop Breast Implants/Anatomical Breast Implants.” Webplastics. April 17, 2011. Web. http://www.webplastics.com/teardrop.htm

“Anatomical Breast Implants.” Las Vegas Breast Revision. April 17, 2011. Web.

“Types of Implants.” Breasts Made Beautiful. April 17, 2011. Web.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Thanks for your comment, Dr. Baxter. The jargon in the industry certainly makes the real situation difficult for many people to understand. In fact, I've heard the term "form-stable" applied to all the current generation of silicone breast implants, no matter what their shape, along with terms like "cohesive gel" and "gummy bear."

In the case of a teardrop shaped implant (which Mentor now calls "shaped" or "contoured"), it makes sense that the gel would need to be more firm in order for the implant to hold its form...but manufacturers like Mentor certainly don't make that clear (and I don't know that I've read that anywhere). Some of the plastic surgeons I've researched do say the filling is pulled toward the bottom of these implant when the patient is upright. So I presume the silicone gel used to fill this style of implant is more firm than in the case of round implants but not completely firm? Is that a fair statement?

Thanks again for your reply.

April 21, 2011 - 9:20am

This is generally good information. The term "anatomical" for the shaped implants is a bit misleading, the correct term being "form-stable." In order to hold the shape, the gel is quite firm so they may not feel as natural as round implants. There are some pre-existing antomic situations in which the form stable implants could be an advantage but they are the minority. Round implants have a teardrop profile in the upright position anyway.

April 21, 2011 - 8:52am
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