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Types of Implants

There are a variety of different types of implants available for breast augmentation patients. The types of implants available differ by shape, texture, volume, filler type, and shell type. Some types of implants are pre-filled, while others are expandable. The type of implant a patient chooses will depend on their anatomy, the amount of breast tissue they have to begin with, their aesthetic goals, and the plastic surgeon.

Implant Shapes

Different types of implants generally come in two shapes: round, and contoured or anatomical.

Round implants are circular in shape. Round implants can "turn"? after insertion without distorting the shape of the breast. These types of implants are typically less expensive than anatomical implants. Some argue that round implants produce a more "unnatural"? look though some point out that when a round implant is held in vertical position it takes the same shape as the anatomical models.

Contoured or anatomical implants were originally designed for reconstructive breast surgery, but are also popular for use in cosmetic breast enlargement. These types of implants are more oval or tear-shaped than their counterparts and were designed to provide more natural-looking results. Because the shifting of an implant once in position could distort the shape of the augmented breast, these types of implants are only available with a textured surface to reduce the risk of movement.

Implant Texture

Types of implants can come in textured or smooth.

Textured implants are designed to prevent capsular contracture and are generally firmer in texture. The shell of these types of implants is thicker than their smooth alternatives. An unwanted rippling effect in the skin is a greater risk with textured implants.

Smooth implants have thinner shells and seem to last longer than textured implants. Research does not show that one type of surface texture is superior to the other and choice will depend on the preference of the patient and her surgeon.

Implant Filler

For over a decade, there has only been one filler type available to women who sought cosmetic breast augmentation: saline filled types of implants. Soybean oil filled types of implants were available until safety concerns prompted their removal from the market. In 1992, safety concerns also prompted the ban of silicone gel implants except when used for reconstructive purposes. In mid-2005, the manufacturer, Mentor Corporation, gained FDA approval to begin selling a cohesive silicone gel implant on a conditional basis, effectively lifting the 13 year ban. Saline filled types of implants are the most common and come in different shapes, sizes, and textures.

Implant Size

Size and profile also varies with different types of implants. In the past, a patient could only choose the size of the implant. Today, different types of implants have different profiles, or projection levels, which will determine how far the augmented breasts will stick out after surgery. Size preference with different types of implants is designed to provide a patient with choices, allowing her to choose an implant that will best meet her aesthetic goals.