Options are growing for breast implants. The FDA recently approved the first "gummy bear" breast implant for use in the U.S. Here's what you need to know about this new type of silicone implant.
The medical term for these devices is "cohesive silicone gel breast implants," but they were dubbed "gummy bear breast implants" by a plastic surgeon because they retain their shape when they are cut in half, like gummy bear candies.
The difference between gummy bear implants and other implants is that the silicone particles in gummy bear implants are more cross-linked, so the material hangs together, according to Dr. Galen Perdikis, a plastic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.
"This change in the way the implants are made means they can be formed into a teardrop shape that mimics natural breast shape," says Dr. Perdikis.
In addition to retaining their shape better, here are some of the benefits of the gummy bear implants:
The cohesive gel implants have their own drawbacks, however. Some women may find them too firm. Also, the incision for these implants is larger. They also carry the same potential risks of other implants, such as asymmetry, infection, and capsular contracture.
Until a few months ago, only women who took part in clinical trials could get these implants in the U.S. But in March of this year, the first cohesive silicone implants were approved by the FDA.
The gummy bear implants, made by a company named Sientra, were approved after an eight-year clinical trial that included almost 1,800 women. Breast implant makers Allergan and Mentor are still in clinical trials for their gummy bear implants.
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