There are two implant shapes: round and anatomical. The best way to make sure you make the right choice on implant shape is to be informed.
So, to get you started, here's my 411 on anatomical implants...
New kid on the block
Anatomical implants are a relatively new type of breast implant. When they first came on to the market, shaped implants were used only in breast reconstructive surgery. More recently they've become a popular choice for women undergoing elective breast augmentation.
The main difference between round and anatomical implants is the shape. A round implant is the same shape all over and an anatomical implant is, well, 'shaped' (or contoured, so it looks like a teardrop). The other big difference is cost. You can expect to pay a few hundred dollars more for an anatomical implant over a round one.
Whatever you call them (anatomical, teardrop, contoured) this implant has a distinctive shape.
In the front view an anatomical implant appears oval. It is slightly narrower at the top and wider at the bottom. From the side, there is more volume at the bottom of the implant. This is what gives it it's distinctive 'teardrop' shape.
Anatomical implants can be filled with saline, silicone or more commonly cohesive gel (these are the ones that get called 'gummy bear' or 'form-stable' implants).
If you choose anatomical implants your options are a bit different than with round implants. You will be able to choose a profile (how much the implant projects from the side and out - either low, moderate or high) and also a height (the length of the implant from top to bottom). Height is an important factor with shaped implants because this is how you determine the amount of upper pole fullness.
ALL anatomical implants have a textured shell... this is important because they need to stay in place in the breast pocket.
Choose shaped if...
The main reason you’ll be steered towards an anatomical implant is you're hoping for a natural look from your breast augmentation.
An anatomical implant gives shape to the breast (a round implant fills).
As you'd expect there are some pro's and con's to this type of implant (as is the case with anything).
On the plus side:
- They're a great choice if you have little natural breast tissue - with less tissue to cover an implant (even if you go under the muscle) a shaped implant will give the breast a nice, natural shape.
- They're a good choice if you have mild breast sagging - because the center of the implant is positioned a bit lower than a round implant and the most volume is in the lower part of the implant is helps 'lift' your lower breast pole.
- Shorter recovery - everyone's recovery period is unique, but you can get back to normal activities slightly sooner with a shaped implant. The textured surface of a shaped implant helps it 'stick' in place.
- No silicone leakage if the implant ruptures - the form-stable/gummy bear silicone anatomical implants are filled with a firmer silicone so if the implant were to rupture the silicone won't leak in to the breast.
- They can be placed over or under the muscle - the ideal location of an anatomical implant is the same as for round implants (i.e. determined by your goals and your existing anatomy).
And, on the downside:
- You'll need a slightly larger incision - a shaped implant needs to be placed snugly in a carefully dissected breast pocket so the surgeon needs more room to get the implant in (usually via a nipple or crease incision).
- They can have a firmer feel - if the implant has cohesive silicone filling they will feel firmer than other breast implants. The firmer silicone helps to keep it's shape.
- There's a potential (but very low chance) of rotation - if an anatomical implant turns it will deform the shape of the breast. This is extremely rare when the breast pocket is well created and not over-dissected – the key is to choose an experienced Board Certified plastic surgeon.
- You may be more likely to feel or see the edge of the implant (particularly if they are inserted above the muscle) - this is, again, because the silicone is firmer.
- They cost more - cost shouldn't be a key deciding factor in your augmentation but anatomical implants do cost more than other implants (up to a few hundred dollars more than a round implant).
If you want a “natural and proportionate” look from your breast augmentation anatomical implants may be a good option for you.
If you want anatomical implants, or your surgeon recommends them, be sure they have lots of experience performing augmentations using shaped implants.
There is no "best" breast implant. There is a best breast implant for you. The most important thing is to know what your personal augmentation goals are.