Cohesive Gel Breast Implants, or as they are sometimes colloquially known, "Gummy Bear" breast implants have become remarkably popular since being reapproved by the FDA in 2006.
The gummy bear breast implants can provide you with a more natural shape and feel because they use a silicone gel that is more cohesive and form-stable compared to the currently available silicone implants.
Note: true "gummy bear" breast implants (HIGHLY cohesive gel or type II and III cohesive gel implants) are actually not approved for the US market. But since most people associate the term "gummy bear" implants with Type I cohesive implants then this is what we refer to here.
Also called cohesive gel breast implants, they have been used in Europe since 1995. These devices have also been approved in Canada and Australia several years ago, which shows that they are relatively safe and effective to a significant number of patients.
After the FDA reapproved them in the United States in 2006, it then implemented a post clinical study program. However, it is no longer necessary for women to be enrolled in "after" studies for cohesive gel, as the breast implant companies already have the 40,000 women required for the study.
If you want to achieve a very natural appearance, this new implant is the right choice for you. This is because the device uses a solid mass of silicone gel that has a consistency and feel that is much closer to your breast tissue.
And unlike the currently available silicone and saline implants, the gummy bear breast implants have been proven to exhibit “shape memory,” which means that if they move, they will return to their original form. Aside from allowing your breasts to feel natural, this characteristic also prevents the shell from folding and rippling.
Take note of the fact that folding and rippling is the primary cause of implant leak, which means that these new implants have a significantly lower chance of rupturing compared to saline and silicone implants.
Overall, you should not be concerned about implant leak if you will choose the gummy bear implants for your breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgery since they are filled with a very cohesive, stable gel that even if the shell is cut in half, it will not leak or migrate to other parts of the body.
This is not the case if you will use the traditional silicone implants that are filled with a liquid silicone gel which can leak if the outer shell is punctured or damaged.
And because this new implant is less likely to wrinkle inside the breasts, the shell is not subjected to a high level of friction and tension that may eventually weaken it. For this reason, many plastic surgeons and experts believe that this device can last longer than the currently available saline and silicone implants.
Perhaps the most exciting about these new implants is that they can lower the risk of capsular contracture, a painful condition in which the scar tissue squeezes the implants to the extent that the contour of the breasts is distorted (shaped like a ball).
According to several studies, capsular contracture occurs less frequently with the use of gummy bear breast implants compared to the saline- and silicone-filled versions. While the main reason behind this is still inconclusive, most experts suggest that the most probable cause is the implants’ firm and stable structure.
While your doctor insert the implants inside your breasts, they cannot be folded due to their cohesiveness. For this reason, you will need a slightly longer incision in the crease of the breast than the one used in saline and silicone implant surgery.
And because your plastic surgeon will create a longer surgical cut, the options you have is the breast crease incision, areola and axillary (underarm or armpit). Meanwhile, you cannot ask for navel incision site since the cohesive gel breast implants will not be able to fit into small incisions.
Another thing you must consider is that gummy bear breast implants cost more than the saline- and silicone-filled implants.
To be considered as a good candidate for this new implant, you should meet these following requirements:
While the cohesive gel breast implants come in teardrop and round shape. The advantage of using teardrop-shaped implants is that you can achieve a natural-looking breast since they can make the bottom area larger than the upper poles. This is not the case in round implants in which your breasts’ contour will resemble a dome, with its top protruding high.
If the gummy bear breast implants come in a teardrop-shaped, you can expect that the result will appear more natural since the form-stable filler can maintain the contour of the shell.
On the other hand, the round-shaped cohesive gel breast implants resemble an M&M when you place them on top of a table.
While the round-shaped breast implants have a shell that may come in smooth or textured exterior, the teardrop implants are always designed with a textured surface so they will not flip over or move too much inside the pocket that they may distort the shape of your breasts.
The American Cancer Society strongly recommends you to undergo a pre-operative mammogram if you are 35 years and older to ensure that there are no abnormalities in your breasts.
After your breast surgery via gummy bear implants, your plastic surgeon will most likely recommend a regular MRI screening which is the best way to evaluate the integrity of these devices. But in the near future, 4-D ultrasound techniques will be available for patients with breast implants which are expected to provide a more detailed and accurate result.
Your breast augmentation via gummy bear breast implants will be performed as an outpatient surgery which means that you can immediately return to your home after the procedure.
To begin the procedure, your doctor will administer general anesthesia that will put you to a state similar to sleep. Once the medication takes effect, he will create a horizontal, discreet incision along your breast crease so the scars are well hidden.
Through the incision, your doctor will create a “pocket” for each breast where he can place the gummy bear implants behind the chest muscle or above this area, although most experts recommend the under-the-muscle implant placement so more tissue and skin will cover the shell.
Once the breasts appear symmetrical to each other, your doctor will close the incision sites using sutures and then wrap your chest with dressing and compression garments.
Following your surgeon’s instructions on how to take care of your breasts is the key to a successful surgery. You should remember that your incisions should not be subjected to excessive motion, force, and abrasion during your recovery.
It is also important that you are accompanied by a “capable” adult during the first few days of your recovery or for at least 24 hours after your breast surgery.
In most cases, you can return to normal activities of daily living after two days, although it may take four weeks or longer before you can engage in physical activities and exercises. But to be on the safe side, you should ask your plastic surgeon on when it is safe to resume these activities.
It is important that you return to your doctor for follow-up care and examination to determine if your body is recovering well. But in case that you experience chest pains, shortness of breast, or unusual heart rate, you should immediately seek medical attention and not wait for the next scheduled appointment.