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What types of breast implants exist?

Undergoing a breast augmentation surgery is a choice that often brings concerns and doubts related to the type of procedure, the shape, and the type of implants.

The latter choice has been positively influenced by a shift that began around the early 2000s, which saw the emergence of next-generation implants, markedly different from those used previously.

Thanks to decades of continuous research and advancements in implant materials and design, today’s breast implants approved by the FDA are among the safest and most tested medical devices on the market.

After a breast augmentation, the size and shape of the breast implants have the greatest impact on the visible results, while the filling material will influence the sensation of the breast.

Based on the content, breast implants can be:

  • Saline breast implants. Saline breast implants are filled with sterile saltwater. If the implant shell ruptures, a saline implant will collapse, and the saline solution will be naturally absorbed and expelled by the body.
  • Silicone breast implants. Silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel. The gel has a consistency more similar to natural breast tissue. If the implant were to rupture, the gel silicone remains in the implant pocket for a long time, and the implant does not collapse.

Silicone implants: postoperative checks and types.

The patient who implants silicone breast implants should undergo annual check-ups to ensure that the implants remain intact. An ultrasound or mammogram screening can assess the condition of the breast implants.

In the case of silicone implants, based on the cohesion of the silicone gel, they can be differentiated into:

Soft implants. The gel is the key component of the implant as it gives the implants their shape and firmness. Silicone can be produced in almost all forms, from liquid to solid, depending on the amount of “cross-linking” components included in the formula.

Round breast implants generally use soft gel technologies. The reason is that since they are uniformly round and an aesthetically acceptable result depends on the ability of round implants to adapt to the breast so that the rounded edges of the breast do not become visible. Although all silicone gels are inherently cohesive, even the softest ones, round implants do not use solid gels and are therefore less stable, meaning they deform more under compression.

Solid implants (with highly cohesive silicone gel). Anatomical breast implants use a solid gel (also known as cohesive gel or “form-stable”). Form stability means that the gel maintains its shape even after being compressed. Such gels offer the best chance for shape control.

Proiezione, forma e superficie delle protesi mammarie

The differentiations regarding breast implants are not exhausted by what has been stated so far. There are other variables to consider: Projection, Shape, and Surface.

Based on Projection, implants can have:

  • High profile, with greater projection and a narrower base
  • Low profile, with a wider base and less projection

Based on Shape, implants are distinguished as:

  • Anatomical or shaped implants: They have a flatter upper pole and a fuller lower pole. They transmit their shape to the breast by lifting the tissue rather than pushing it out as round implants do. They remain more balanced with the chest and shoulders compared to round implants with the same base width. With anatomical implants, three parameters can be varied:
    1) implant width,
    2) implant height,
    3) implant projection. For this reason, anatomical breast implants are able to provide a truly “three-dimensional” breast augmentation.
  • Round implants: These implants make the breast appear fuller at the top compared to anatomical implants. They have the advantage over anatomical implants that in case of rotation, they do not change the outcome of the surgery.
    Although female breasts are not naturally round, the round implant remains the most used implant. With correct placement, often best achieved with a partial submuscular dual-plane approach, round implants can provide natural-looking and satisfying results, especially in young women.
    In choosing a round implant, two parameters are important:
    1) implant diameter,
    2) implant projection.
    By adjusting these parameters, it is possible to increase the volume of the breast (like a dome). It is important to recognize that round implants mainly add volume to the breast.

Implants can also be distinguished based on their Surface:

  • Smooth breast implants: They give a softer feeling. They can move within the implant pocket, giving a more natural breast movement. However, they may present palpable or visible rippling under the skin.
  • Textured breast implants: They have a rough surface, which stimulates the production of scar tissue that adheres to the implant, making the rotation of the implant less likely. The texture also offers some advantages over the smooth surface in reducing the risk of capsular contracture.

It is important to note that Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) occurs more frequently in patients with textured breast implants. For this reason, in some countries, the production of macro-textured implants has been banned, and only micro-textured implants are allowed.

At MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini” the quality of implants is fundamental

Among the variables that affect a breast augmentation surgery, the choice of the most suitable implants and their quality are fundamental aspects. For the MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini” and the professionals who collaborate with it, the guiding principles of their work are safety, reliability, and professionalism. By choosing our excellent facility, the breast augmentation procedure includes hospitalization and postoperative follow-up to ensure that nothing is left to chance.

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