Dr. Brooke R. Seckel
There are two major different breast implant shapes. There are round breast implant shapes and teardrop breast implant shapes. Round shaped breast implants have been in use for over 50 years. In my practice round breast implant shapes are more popular than teardrop breast implant shapes. Teardrop shaped breast implants were developed more recently in an attempt to create an implant that is closer to the natural breast shape when you are standing upright. The teardrop breast implants are also called shaped, anatomic, or contour breast implants. If you are considering breast augmentation one important decision you will have to make is which breast implant shape you want to have. There are many other important decisions that you will have to make, however in this article I am going to focus only on breast implant shape.
The photographs below show round breast implant shapes:
Round breast implants are by far the most common breast implant shape used today. Round breast implants can be textured or smooth walled and can be filled with cohesive silicone gel or saline depending on patient preference. The round breast implant shape is designed to mimic the actual shape of the female breast gland. When the round breast implant is placed into the body either beneath the breast gland or underneath the chest muscle the size and fullness of the breast is increased. When you are in the standing position, the silicone or saline that is inside the round breast implant migrates downward or drops to create fullness beneath and below the nipple and areola. For most patients the round implant creates a natural looking side and front view of your breasts. Smooth walled round breast implants move with your body motion in a natural way and in my opinion feel more like natural breast tissue than teardrop shaped textured breast implants. Notice before and after photograph of patient with round breast implants below:
In my opinion smooth walled round breast implants create the most natural appearing breasts after breast augmentation. They are my choice for most of my young patients who have not had children and want breast augmentation.
Round breast implants are also my first choice for patients who have had children and want to restore their breast back to their pre pregnancy shape and size. The most common complaint about the breast after pregnancy and breast feeding is that the breast gland is smaller and has sagged so that the breast tissue is below the nipple and areola or in the lower pole of the breast.
When this happens most patients want to increase fullness above and below the nipple areola to improve cleavage and breast fullness above and below the nipple areola in the upper and lower poles of the breast. The round breast implant is the best choice to restore upper breast pole fullness above the nipple areola and improve cleavage. Note upper and lower pole fullness above and below the nipple in the before and after round shaped breast implant photograph below:
Shaped, anatomic, teardrop or contoured breast implants are only available with a textured implant surface but are available with saline or cohesive silicone gel on the inside of the implant. Teardrop shaped breast implants have more volume in the lower pole or lower portion of the implant and are thinner at the top or upper pole of the implant as you can see in the photograph of the teardrop shaped breast implant below:
This shape mimics the natural shape of the breast when you are standing and the breast gland falls downward with more breast fullness underneath the nipple areola in the lower pole of the breast. Unlike the round implant, the shaped breast implant produces less breast fullness or volume in the upper pole of the breast above the nipple areola and in the cleavage area but more volume in the lower pole of the breast. Notice more fullness in lower pole of the breast in the before and after photo of a patient with a teardrop or shaped breast implant below:
In addition the textured shaped breast implant is firmer and in some cases may be more palpable when in the body. Because shaped breast implants are textured, they adhere to the tissue surrounding the implant. Thus shaped breast implants move less with your body and can feel less like natural breast tissue in some patients.
Another consideration is that teardrop shaped implants must be placed very accurately and symmetrically. If one slide is placed only slightly differently the asymmetry will be very obvious after surgery. Smooth round breast implants do not have this potential problem.
Shaped breast implants are marketed as providing a natural look. However I would say that shaped or teardrop breast implants provide a natural look that the breast has when you are standing up. In my practice I use shaped breast implants when the patient specifically wants breast fullness below the nipple areola and the bottom of the breast but does not want fullness in the upper breast and cleavage area.
Shaped breast implants are also very useful in breast reconstruction after mastectomy. In addition, in some patients with breast sagging or nipple ptosis when the nipple is low but not below the fold under the breast, shaped implants can add volume to the lower pole of the breast and push the nipple forward.
First, understand that a properly performed breast augmentation can achieve a beautiful result with either a round or teardrop shaped breast implant. Thus your most important decision is to consult only plastic surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and experienced in aesthetic breast surgery. The Smart Beauty Guide can be a valuable resource to find experienced board certified aesthetic plastic surgeons in your area.
Your plastic surgeon will examine you, take specific measurements of your breast width and nipple areola position as well as determining the shape and size of the breast that you hope to have after breast augmentation.
A sizing evaluation is also done in my office using the Mentor Breast Implant Sizing System to help you decide the size of breast implant you need to achieve the breast look that you desire. Following this you will be shown both round and teardrop breast implant shapes, and your surgeon will help you choose the best breast implant shape for your desired or goal look.
You can also study before and after photos of patients with different breast implant size and breast implant shapes by visiting LoveYourLook.com to help you in your choice of implant. You can even upload your photos to see how you will look with different implant sizes by visiting the breast implant visualizer.
Generally speaking I recommend:
• Young women with firm breast tissue
• Women who have had children, lost volume but the nipple areola is in a normal position above the inframammary crease or fold beneath the breast
• Women who specifically want full firm breasts above the nipple areola, the upper breast pole, and cleavage
• Most post mastectomy breast reconstruction patients
• Patients who specifically want fullness below the nipple areola or lower breast pole and do not want upper breast pole fullness and full cleavage.
• Patients who want breast shape to remain constant standing or lying down
• Patients who have had sagging and stretching of the breast and exaggerated round shape after previous breast augmentation and are having a revision
• Patients with mild sagging or breast ptosis who do not want a breast lift and specifically want more breast volume in the lower pole of the breast with more nipple projection
In summary, your most important decision is to choose an experienced board certified plastic surgeon who you are comfortable with and allow your chosen surgeon to advise you on your best breast implant shape. After a thorough examination and understanding your specific goals and unique breast structure your surgeon should be able to help you pick the best breast implant shape for you. Good luck!