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For the past 50 years, Board Certified Plastic Surgeons have had a selection of Breast Implants to choose from for Breast Augmentation. Before breast implants, injectable fillers like fat, paraffin, sponge and even free silicone were used. The lack of predictability and irregular results led to the search for a better method for breast augmentation. Breast Implants were that next step, and for 50 years they have provided the safest and most predictable technique for cosmetic breast enlargement. Recent developments in breast implant manufacturing continue to provide improvements.

Teardrop Shaped Breast Implant Before and After Pictures

Breast augmentation with teardrop shaped breast implants.

Breast Augmentation using shaped breast implants. These breast implants are teardrop shaped and taller than they are wide. The tapered teardrop shape allows for fullness higher on the chest that is more gradual without excess width. Enhanced filling in the lower pole allows for enhanced projection and better definition of the curve beneath the breasts. These teardrop shaped breast implants were placed via an incision in the inframammary fold.

Breast Implant Variety is Good

Because we come in all shapes and sizes, breast implants are available in different shapes and sizes. In the 1990’s, after the temporary restriction of silicone filled breast implants for cosmetic breast augmentation, only one shape was available. The shape, still found in Moderate Profile Breast Implants, was available in multiple sizes, but all had the same profile. As the volume increased, the diameter and projection increased proportionately. These worked very well to increase the size of the breast for the average woman; however, there were limitations in how the breast implants could be individualized.

Low, Medium and High Profile Breast Implants

Eventually, multiple profiles became available. High profile Breast Implants allow greater volumes to be used on narrower chests by increasing the projection of the implant and narrowing the diameter. This can help prevent the augmented breast from becoming disproportionately wide on the chest, also known as too much “side boob.” On the other hand, Low Profile Breast Implants are wider and slightly flatter, to help reduce the gap between the breasts on a wider chest. For a wide chest, the increased width is advantageous.

Round Breast Implants

All the above implants are round. Round Breast Implants are symmetrical in shape across the center of the breast implant. This is a good thing for many breast augmentations. The natural breast tissue tends to be in the lower pole of the breast, so evenly augmenting the breast will maintain the fullness in the lower pole and give a teardrop shaped breast. This is great for a woman with nicely shaped small breast who desires a proportional breast augmentation.

Shaped Breast Implants

But what about a woman who is flat? For women who have very little breast tissue, whether this is the breast development they are born with, or whether this is an acquired deformity after a mastectomy, it is desirable to disproportionately augment the lower pole of the breast. Here is where shaped breast implants can help.

Shaped Breast Implants are shaped more like a desirable breast. They are tear-drop shaped, with a gradually tapered upper pole and enhanced filling in the lower pole. This allows your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to preferentially augment the lower half of the breast, without over-exaggerating the upper pole.

First Generation Shaped Breast Implants

The first breast implants were shaped implants. They were Smooth Shaped Breast Implants with patches on the back to keep then from rotating. Unfortunately, the stress of these patches holding the implant shell in place could cause the implant to leak more frequently.

Textured Shaped Breast Implants

When Textured Breast Implants were introduced, it was noted that the fuzzy outer surface of the breast implant would attach to the inner surface of the pocket created to hold the implant. The attachment is like velcro, and prevents the implants from rotating, but still allows for easy replacement in case of deflation. Both saline and silicone breast implants are available in smooth and textured varieties.

Second Generation Shaped Breast Implants

Shaped Textured Breast Implants were very popular when first introduced. However, it became clear that there was still room for improvement. The texturing increased the incidence of rippling, and for saline implants, increased the risk of leakage. However, the biggest problem was that all textured shaped breast implants were filled with liquid – either saline or silicone.

By definition, liquids take the shape of their container, and even though the implants’ shells had the right shape, they were soft. The final shape of the breast augmentation was determined by the pocket that was created for the implant, and not just the shape of the implant shell. As a result, the shaped implants gave about the same shape as their round counter parts. Attempts have been made to manufacture double lumen implants that can resists external forces, but to date, this has not been successful.

Third Generation Shaped Breast Implants

With the advent of Highly Cohesive Silicone Gel Breast Implants comes the ability to create a shaped implant that can resist distortion from external forces. The gel inside these implants has “memory,” and even if squished, the implant will return to its original shape. These implants come in various volumes and profiles, and the vertical and horizontal diameters can be varied independently. Shaped implants are available with round bases, like their predecessors, but can also made with their height (vertical diameter) greater than width (horizontal diameter) and visa versa. Taller, narrow implants can be selected for longer, narrower chests, while shorter, wider implants can be used to match a shorter, wider chest wall.

More Options Equals More Choices

Under the right circumstances, shaped implants will help create a more aesthetic breast. However, shaped breast implants will not be the right choice for every woman. The use of shaped breast implants will require a greater attention to detail both for preoperative planning and intraoperative placement. Shaped breast implants also come with new and unique problems. For example, unlike a round breast implant, if a shaped breast implant rotates, the shape of the augmented breast will change.

As your choices for breast augmentation increase, so does the need for experienced plastic surgeons to guide you. In experienced hands, options provide the opportunity to improve results. Without experience, more options may only provide more confusion.

The Importance of Board Certification – Experience Improves Outcomes

Be certain to discuss all your options with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Some choices will be easy to eliminate, but try not to limit your options before your consultation. By choosing a specific breast implant, approach or technique, before your appointment, you may be eliminating a better result. Get all the information you can, so that you can fully explore everything available for your breast augmentation.

As a patient, you bring the singular most important pieces of information with you. You provide the exact starting point and your goals. As a board certified plastic surgeon, with many years of experience in performing breast augmentation surgery, I can say that based on these two items, often the best methods of reaching your goal quickly becomes clear.

Considering Breast Augmentation?

If you are considering breast augmentation, find out what your options are. To schedule a personalized Breast Augmentation Consultation, call (925) 943-6353, or send me an email using the contact form on the left.

Next post: Examples of breast augmentation comparing round and shaped breast implants.

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