This term is confusing to most people. Plastic surgeons refer to this implant as “form stable,” meaning that even if the shell were stripped away from the silicone filling, the shape of the silicone filling would remain. These are usually shaped implants. The shaped implants, rather than being round, have different height, width, and projection ratios. For instance, the implant can be moderate in height, moderate in width, and extra projecting. Three different heights, widths, and projections are possible for the same volume of the implant. Dr. Salzman was involved in the FDA trials of this implant (style 410 Inamed) and has used it extensively in his practice. It is not presently available for free and unrestricted use. All silicone gel implants today contain a “cohesive gel.” Unlike the gel implants of the ’70s and ’80s, these newer implants have a thicker gel and are sometimes known as “gummy bear” implants
What Are Gummy Bear Implants?
The gummy bear implant is a form-stable implant that was recently approved by the FDA. A form-stable implant is shaped like a teardrop so it looks more natural than a round implant. The silicone inside the implant is thicker, even holding its shape if it is cut in half. This thick consistency is what has given it the nickname ‘gummy bear’ implant.
Benefits of Gummy Bear Implants
As with all implants, there are benefits and disadvantages. It is up to both you and Dr. Salzman to determine if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Benefits include:
- A more natural look with more fullness at the bottom
- The stiffer gel makes the breast more firm
- The stiffer gel also reduces wrinkling of the implant
- The textured appearance may reduce the risk of developing capsular contracture
Disadvantages of Gummy Bear Implants
There are also disadvantages to choosing this type of implant. For some women, the consistency of the gel is undesirable, making it an unpleasant choice. Other disadvantages include:
- Rotation of the implant, which distorts the shape of the breast because the implant is teardrop-shaped instead of round
- A larger incision is needed to insert the thicker implants
As with all implants, there are some risks, including rupture, adverse reaction to anesthesia, infection, and bleeding.
What is the Difference Between Gummy Bear Implants and Traditional Implants?
The only real difference is the gel used to fill these implants. The silicone gel in gummy bear implants is more cohesive than traditional silicone gel that tended to be more of a thick liquid consistency. With gummy bear implants — and there isn’t a single type or manufacturer — the gel tends to want to stay together, so even if the implant ruptures the gel remains within the shell. This contrasts with traditional silicone gel that could leave the shell.
There are different gummy gels used. For instance, Natrelle offers three different gummy gels, which they have named “Responsive” to “SoftTouch” to “Cohesive” for the increasing degree of thickness of the cohesive gel.
Because gummy bear implant gel is more cohesive, there are options for teardrop shapes with some of these implants in addition to round. The original gummy bear implants were all teardrop shaped and textured, but that is no longer the case.
How Long Do Gummy Bear Implants Last?
All manufacturers guarantee their implants, including gummy bear implants, for 10 years. If the implants rupture within that time, the company pays for part of the surgery to remove and replace the ruptured implants. That assumes a baseline of at least a decade for implant lifespan.
However, because of the cohesiveness of gummy bear implants, it’s thought these implants will prove to be more durable. Because they most gummy bear implants were only approved by the FDA in 2012, there isn’t much broad-based, long-term data to see if that is true.
Can Gummy Bear Implants Move?
Gummy bear implants are less likely to shift as your body moves. The gel remains distributed to its designed proportions for a consistent shape. This is one reason this implant type has very low possibility of rippling.
There is a chance that teardrop-shaped gummy bear implants can rotate. This tendency is countered in some offerings by placing a texture on the outside of the implant shell. This allows the scar tissue to adhere to the implant more easily.
How Often Do Gummy Bear Implants Rotate?
There is about a 1 percent risk of teardrop-shaped gummy bear implants rotating. That is not a problem with round gummy bear options.
How Hard Can Gummy Bear Implants Feel?
The term gummy bear can be a bit of a misnomer, as most of these implants are not as firm as actual gummy bear candy. There are different thickness profiles offered in these cohesive gel implants, so patients can choose the degree of firmness they want. These implants are thought to feel more like natural breast tissue than other, particularly older, silicone implants. Despite the cohesiveness of the gel, most gummy bear implants would be described as having a soft, squishy feel.
What is Recovery Like After Having Augmentation With Gummy Bear Implants?
Because these implants are more cohesive, they tend to need a slightly longer incision to place them. This is the only aspect of your recovery that is different than with any other implant, and it doesn’t change things in any dramatic way.
Recovery from augmentation surgery is not as difficult as you might assume. For the first few days, you will have some discomfort, but many patients don’t use their prescribed pain medication. Because we do a pectoralis block of the nerves that make the muscles of the chest wall contract, our patients are more comfortable than patients not receiving this anesthesa block. Those who do usually only need it for the first week or less. Recovery varies by your incision location, the size of your implants, and whether the implants were placed above or beneath the pectoral muscle.
Your chest will likely feel tight, but this is perfectly normal as the tissue needs to stretch and the implants need to settle into place. When you first look at your new breasts, they may appear too high on the chest. But this is also normal, as settling will bring the implants down somewhat.
Most patients can return to work in just 2 to 3 days. You can begin non-impact activity in a week or so, but impact exercise needs to wait for at least one month. Specific upper body exercises can resume in six weeks.