Ever since silicone gel implants received FDA approval, breast implant companies have been engineering updates to improve the appearance, function, feel and longevity of the devices. As a result, plastic surgeons today have a wide array of implant options to choose from when planning a breast augmentation.
From 2006 to 2013, if you decided to go with a silicone gel implant instead of a saline implant, soft, runny silicone gel was the only option. Puncture a traditional silicone implant and silicone gel will leak out from the damaged shell.
In 2013 the FDA first approved breast implants containing a more cohesive silicone gel. This silicone gel has the consistency of a semi-solid and is no longer runny. When the shell of one of these implants is cut, the silicone maintains its form and does not leak out. Commonly called gummy bear implants, these highly cohesive silicone gel implants have been available now for several years.
Soft, Firm and In Between
The ability to customize the amount of firmness to the silicone gel implant IS new. According to Mark D. Epstein, MD of Stony Brook, New York, “The softer the gel, the less control you have of the shape of the implant. The firmer the gel, the more you control the shape, but the firmer the breast feels.”
Allergan’s Natrelle is the only line of breast implants in the United States that offers three different levels of cohesive gel for varying levels of firmness. The firmest option is the highly cohesive gel found in the first generation of gummy bear implants. The softest implant option is the traditional silicone gel. In the middle is a new option – the form stable, yet less firm, Inspira SoftTouch.
Allergan’s Natrelle Implants
- Most Firm: Inspira Cohesive, Style 410
- Soft, Yet Form Stable: Inspira SoftTouch
- Traditional Soft: Natrelle Inspira
“The Natrelle Inspira SoftTouch implant is an implant that has actually been around for a while in other countries such as Canada, but was very recently approved by the FDA for use in this country,” explains Epstein. “It’s a round implant, silicone gel-filled, but the gel is what I consider to be an excellent balance between softness and shape.”
Are Round Implants or Shaped Implants Best For You?
Also new in 2017 is the ability to choose a round cohesive silicone gel implant. Prior to this year, cohesive gel was only available for teardrop shaped implants, a style known as the Allergan Natrelle 410.
Shaped implants are a great option for women who have very little breast tissue to begin with and don’t want their breasts to appear round after augmentation. The teardrop shape provides a natural slope to an augmented breast, as it is flatter on top and more full on the bottom. However, a shaped implant is not ideal for every situation.
Many women desire breast implants for the very reason that they want fullness “up top.” The best way to achieve fullness in the upper part of the breast is with a round implant that maintains its round shape within the breast. Unfortunately, previous generation round implants also had a tendency to change shape within the breast due to the shape shifting tendency of runny silicone gel. With the new SoftTouch implants, the cohesive silicone gel maintains its round shape, filling out the upper portion of the breast. Finally, patients can finally achieve soft, full breasts.
Round implants have a smooth outer shell and move freely within the breast pocket. Another potential drawback to anatomically shaped implants is that they must maintain their position in the breast. Teardrop shaped implants have a textured shell to help prevent rotation within the breast. This texture serves as a type of velcro, locking the implant in it’s proper position. There is, however, still the possibility that the shaped implant could rotate in the breast pocket, which could lead to the need for additional surgery.
Filling the Gap in Breast Implant Options
With so many options and an abundance of information, the search for the perfect implant can quickly become overwhelming. The key to finding the right implant for you is communicating your goals and concerns to an experienced board certified plastic surgeon who is familiar with the latest advances in breast implants.
In Dr. Epstein’s opinion, the Inspira SoftTouch fills the gap between implants in the past that were too soft and lacked the ability to control the shape of the breast, and those that were too firm and did not feel as natural. For this reason, the Inspira SoftTouch is the perfect fit for the majority of his breast augmentation patients.
“The implants look and feel very natural,” shares Epstein. “My patients love them. We are very excited about the results that we’re getting and will continue to get in the future with SoftTouch. I think the Inspira SoftTouch is going to be the go-to implant in the years to come.”