Prior to the attorney-manufactured breast implant scare in 1991, there were at least seven breast implant companies in the United States. Only two, Mentor and Allergan survived the controversy and continued to produce breast implants in this country. They battle each other back and forth trying in gain a higher share of the breast implant marketplace. This battle is being fought not only in the advertising market but also in their research and development departments where each strives to create the perfect breast implant.
As breast augmentation has become more popular, different shaped implants have been created to satisfy the desire of every patient. More breast projection without excessive size around is being accomplished by the “midrange” or “moderate plus” projection style of implant. These allow for a significant increase in cup size without extending the implant off of the chest which can happen with a large “low profile” implant or use of overly round “high profile” implants, which tend to look less natural.
Shaped implants became popular around the turn of the century but their popularity has fallen off since then. The idea of shaped implants was to create an implant which is the shape of a nice sized natural breast. These implants are generally taller than they are wide, are all textured on their surface and are more expensive than standard smooth round implants. They tend to have a higher rupture rate, are easier to feel under the skin and usually leave a wider space between the breasts. Why pay more for less?
Textured Surface Implants
Texturing of breast implants had been done to reduce the risk of capsular contracture but these implants are more expensive, are easier to feel and have a higher rupture rate. Textured implants were once in vogue but have significantly lost their appeal as texturing does not appear to make much of a difference in implants placed under the muscle which is where most experienced, modern day aesthetic plastic surgeons put the vast majority of their implants.
The two breast implant manufacturers have tended to mirror each other in their products, promotions and warranties until recently when Allergan reduced the value of their saline implant warranty. Sientra relatively recently entered the silicone implant market making an implant with a thicker, more viscous gel but does not make saline implants. Each company makes a wide variety of breast implants so that every patient can get the size, shape and style that they are looking for.
Breast Implant Sizes
Breast implants come in a variety of sizes as determined by their volumes in milliliters or cubic centimeters, not cup sizes. The volume differences between the implants are usually 25-30cc’s for smaller implants and generally around 50cc’s for larger implants. There are typically three or four implants that will take a women’s cup size up one or two sizes and the appropriate implant depends a lot on the circumference of the patient’s chest. Smaller implants for smaller chests, larger implants for women with larger chests.