People have been asking me about my thoughts regarding the the new ‘gummy bear’ silicone breast implant which the Food and Drug Administration has just recently approved for use in humans. It is the latest innovation in silicone implant technology that utilizes what is called a ‘cohesive gel’ silicone, that is less liquid in nature compared to more traditional and standard types of silicone breast implants.
To get a little technical here, the gummy bear implant is officically called the Natrelle 410 highly cohesive anatomically shaped silicone gel filled breast implant. It is manufactured by the Allergan Corporation. Its main advantage is that the silicone in the implant is formulated into a cohesive formula that is not so liquid in nature like most silicone implants apart, and gives it a more ‘gummy’ texture; hence the nickname, ‘gummy bear’, because that is kind of what it feels like as you manipulate the implant and hold it in your hands .As I mentioned, regular silicone implants are very much like a thick liquid, and this is the reason why ‘gummy bear’ implants may have a significant advantage over traditional silicone implants.
When silicone implants rupture, you immediately become aware that they have ruptured because the implant deflates and the silicone spreads all around the breast pocket. The silicone then needs to be cleaned out and a new implant needs to be placed. Having a cohesive silicone such as the ‘gummy bear’ implant or the Natrelle 410 implant has a theoretical advantage of not having that problem of spillage and rupture, as well as the possible advantage of lasting longer than traditional implants.
That being said, long-term studies have not been done on this implant, so we don’t know, as of yet, what happens over the longer term compared to traditional implants. But is seems, from what I can gather, ‘gummy bear’ implants are just as good, and have the possibility of being better over the long term. That being said, ‘gummy bear’ implants are not being marketed as lifetime devices by the Allergan corporation.
And it is important to note that the current reality for breast implants is that they can last under ideal conditions for 12 to 14 years. There are reports of implants lasting 20 to 30 years, but that certainly not the majority of cases, and as I have said, Natrelle implants are not marketed as lifetime devices at this point.
Ultimately, though, from my perspective, as a plastic surgeon practicing in Chicago, what will be most important is how they look and how they feel to me as well as to my patients. I have handled the ‘gummy bear implants’ and they do provide an exciting and innovative technology from my perspective, but ultimately, it is up to the patient to decide, as I think the standard silicone implants also provide an acceptable alternative that can provide excellent results as well.
I certainly am excited about finding out how my patients feel about the procedure, as well as answering all of their questions.