Gummy Bear Breast Implants
Gummy bear implants have nothing to do with gummy bear candy and I, personally, have an issue with the term. Some people think that these implants are made of many small pieces of silicone, while others believe the implant is similar to a large version of a gummy bear candy and these concepts are completely wrong. Gummy bear implants are merely a new version of silicone breast implants. There are some qualities of these silicone breast implants that are simply different than traditional silicone implants. Read on and I’ll explain. Please understand that what I’ve written below consists of both fact and my opinion. As one of the most experienced breast plastic surgeons in the country I have extensive experience with every type of implant currently available. My opinions are not shaped by what I am told by the breast implant manufacturers, they are based on my experience using these implants both inserting them and, in some cases, removing them. There are advantages and disadvantages to these implants as there are for any choice of implants. I will do my best to explain in order for you to make an educated decision about what is best for you.
What are Gummy Bear Implants?
Gummy Bear breast implants are merely another variety of silicone implant. When we discuss the materials available to fill breast implants we talk about how ‘cohesive’ the material is. This term basically refers to both how viscous and thick the material is as well as how much the material will ’stick’ to itself. Sometimes plastic surgeons refer to gummy bear implants as ‘Cohesive Gel’ implants and this is technically incorrect. All silicone gel implants are ‘cohesive’. Just some material is more cohesive than others. The ‘Gummy Bear’ category of silicone gel implants merely suggests an implant that is a bit ‘more cohesive’.
To simplify the concept, imagine traditional gel as an extremely thick liquid- almost pasty in consistency if you held just the gel in your hand. Similarly, imagine the gummy-bear implant as an extremely soft solid like Jello. The main difference is that the liquid silicone implant, no matter how thick, is still a liquid and has the ability to flow like a liquid. The gummy-bear implant, no matter how soft, is still a solid and has the properties of a solid. As an example, imagine a bowl full of water (liquid) and if I gave you a knife asking that you slice it in half. IT’s kind of a silly concept because, as a liquid, it just mixes back together. Now imagine a bowl of jello- a very soft solid. Using the same knife you could easily cut it into two pieces and it will forever remain as two pieces.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these implant types.
How are Gummy Bear Breast Implants different from traditional Silicone Gel Implants?
Keeping in mind that the Gummy Bear implant contains a solid material you can understand that the gel itself has a shape. Although this gel is somewhat held in shape by the ‘wrapper’ that holds it on the outside, even without the wrapper the material has a shape. Traditional gel implants, on the other hand, have a shape that is very dependent on the wrapper that holds it. Intuitively this sounds like a big advantage for the more solid implants. The truth is that, once inserted in the typical under-muscle position, and exposed to the forces exerted by this muscle, the shape of the gel deforms easily.
Why Gummy Bear Implants- Who Are they for?
My opinion is that the gummy bear implant with its more cohesive gel is of some advantage in patients with very small natural breasts, or in cases of reconstruction after breast cancer where a patient has no natural breast. In these cases the shaped or ‘anatomical’ implant can give a fuller bottom to the breast which, in certain cases, may be more desirable.
Some doctors feel that there is less wrinkling or rippling with a gummy bear implant and I disagree. I do believe that rippling is often an issue with saline breast implants, especially in thin patients. However, with silicone implants, the incidence of this rippling is decreased. In my experience the incidence of rippling is no different when using a gummy bear implant compared to a traditional silicone gel implant.
One obvious disadvantage with gummy bear implants is that they are the firmest of all silicone implants. This firmness is sometimes noticeable at the bottom of the breast where the implant could feel very different than the overlying natural breast tissue.
The Surgical Procedure with Cohesive Gel Implants
The procedure with gummy bear implants is similar to the procedure with other implants. With anatomically-shaped gummy bear implants the device itself is asymmetric as there is more gel on the bottom. These implants, therefore have the ability to turn in their pocket. For this reason all anatomically shaped implants have a textured coating. This rough coating encourages scar tissue to adhere to the shell of the implant and ‘lock’ it in place to reduce this risk.
When I use anatomically shaped implants I typically put a dressing on that helps support the sides of the implants. This external compression helps assure that the implant stays in its desired position during the first few days after surgery.
Gummy-bear implants usually require a slightly larger scar than traditional gel implants. In my opinion all silicone implants should be inserted with an insertion funnel. This insertion device puts less force on the implant and minimizes the scar size.
Are Gummy Bear Implants better?
It is my opinion, having used virtually every implant on the market, that traditional gel implants are superior in most cases. The goal is to use an implant that best augments the breast with minimal risks and as natural a feel and appearance as possible. I feel that, in most cases, round Memory Gel implants give superior results. There are cases where the advantages of the gummy bear anatomical implants outweigh the disdvantages. In my opinion these are typically cases of post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. Occasionally I see a cosmetic patient who would benefit from gummy bear implants.