There are three major breast implant manufacturers in the United States: Allergan, Mentor, and Sientra. Each makes a number of implant varieties from shape to texture to fill. Does it matter which manufacturer makes your implant?
This topic was posed to a panel of leaders in the field of breast augmentation surgery and each has extensive experience working with implants from all three breast implant manufacturers, understanding how each works for certain cases and don’t for others. When it comes to patient decisions, should the implant manufacturers figure into the process of choosing a breast implant?
Why Would a Patient Want a Specific Breast Implant Manufacturer?
For most of the approximately 300,000 women who’ll seek a breast augmentation this year, making the choice to go ahead with surgery is simply the first step in a long line of decisions. The actual surgery is quick and the recovery minimal, but choosing the right implant for a patient’s individual anatomy and needs is a complicated process that depends on any number of factors. None of which, up until recently, included breast implant manufacturer.
However, given the fact that each of the three breast implant manufacturers now participate in direct to consumer advertising, more and more patients are coming into their breast augmentation consults with not just a specific size and shape implant in mind, but also a specific brand. Is this a good idea?
For Dr. Camille Cash of Houston, what’s important is understanding why the patient is selecting that particular implant. Is it because they want a natural look and they think a shaped or tear drop implant is best going to deliver that desired outcome? If so, “that’s a reasonable expectation.” Bottom line, it is the surgeon’s job to understand whether or not a patient is making a decision based on a specific breast implant manufacturer and if so, why? Are they going for a particular look or do they want that implant because it’s the one that their cousin got?
It is important for the surgeon to educate the patient as to what each implant will deliver because what worked for your cousin may not work for you. Every surgeon on the panel has extensive experience with all three breast implant manufacturers so they understand how these implants behave over time. It is this expertise that allows them to guide the patient appropriately to select the right implant for their body.
Breast Implant Manufacturers Advertising
Dr. Ashley Gordon of Austin is personally a little uncomfortable with the proliferation of direct to consumer advertising on the part of all three breast implant manufacturers.“I was looking at my Instagram the other day and one of the companies has sponsored ads on there now and I thought that was kind of strange,” she admits. While she’s definitely in favor of breast implant manufacturers using their advertising dollars to educate patients about their breast implant options, a lot of this new direct to consumer advertising is about selling a specific brand. It’s image advertising, but about a product that’s functional. This can be a problem given the fact that most patients don’t understand what each different breast implant delivers.
In Dr. Daniel Maman’s office in New York City, it’s common for patients to come in and request a specific type of implant, but it’s very unusual for them to request a specific breast implant manufacturer “I think that direct to consumer marketing in terms of anatomic shapes and smooth vs. round implants is great because it informs the public about what the options are and gives us the opportunity to tell patients what our experiences are,” he explains.
Each Breast Implant Manufacturer Is Good
When asked whether or not she had any favorites among the three breast implant manufacturers, Dr. Cash hedged her bets. Before the advent of anatomic implants, Allergen and Mentor both offered similar products: smooth, round implants in either gel or saline. “They were pretty comparable,” she admits.
The distinguishing factor between the three breast implant manufacturers, for Dr. Cash, occurred with the introduction of their shaped or anatomic implants. “[Each has] different properties in terms of how they’re filled, the consistency of the gel, the dimensions of the implant,” Cash explains, so this is where the manufacturer could come into play.
In reality, however, she uses implants from all three companies. For Dr. Maman, he could do a breast augmentation with an implant from any of the three breast implant manufacturers. While he agrees with Dr. Cash that there are some differences, he could get an “equally good result with any of the manufacturers. In our practice, the honest truth is we choose the manufacturer based on the quality of service they provide us.”