Breast augmentation is the most popular form of plastic surgery, but now the well-known saline and silicone implants are making way for the newer so-called Gummy Bear breast implant
The Gummy Bear nickname may sound cute, but it’s officially known as a Highly-Cohesive, Form-Stable Silicone Gel Implant. But it feels like a gummy bear and – more importantly – it holds its shape like one, too.
That may be one reason it’s becoming more popular.
GOING UNDER THE KNIFE
“I’m a little nervous, but I’m glad that [the day is] here,” said Tammy Neelis on the morning of her breast augmentation surgery.
She decided to go with the new implant with the funny name after thinking about her options for three years.
“My breast have fallen a little bit from children and nursing and just natural age, and I feel like this implant is going to lift my breast tissue and fill me out at the top where I’ve hallowed,” she said moments before being rolled into surgery on October 25, 2017.
The wife and mother-of-three from Jackson knew what she wanted because she’d seen results. She works at Ann Arbor Plastic Surgery as the Patient Care Coordinator.
Her doctor – board-certified plastic surgeon Pramit Malhotra, M.D. – was one of the first in Michigan to start offering the Gummy Bear implant after it became FDA-approved in 2012.
“It used to be about 5% of patients [wanted Gummy Bear implants]. Now it’s about 40%. So, it’s grown dramatically,” said Dr. Malhotra.
But why is it so popular?
“I think this implant really does a few things that we just weren’t able to do before with a traditional implant. It has this nice shape to it. We call it a teardrop shape. It has more of the natural slope that a natural breast would have,” he explained.
THE "GUMMY BEAR" VS. TRADITIONAL SILICONE
Now with this advancement, the days of women wanting large, round implants – like the regular silicone gel implant -- may be replaced with more women like Tammy Neelis who are in search of a more natural look -- as you see with the Gummy Bear implant’s more anatomical shape.
Dr. Malhotra also explained that the Gummy Bear implants have a secret weapon: they give women a little bit more of a lift than traditional silicone implants.
That 'mini-lift' and the more natural 'look’ are what Tammy is going for.
The entire surgery only takes about an hour. A funnel is used to insert the implant into the breast tissue.
The incision is slightly larger than with other implants because the highly-cohesive, form-stable implants are more dense.
Dr. Malhotra explained that the thicker, textured coating helps them adhere to the breast tissue like Velcro to keep them in place.
But the big question for many is will they leak?
The doctor said because the gel molecules are tighter, gummy bear implants are the least likely to leak.
As the reporter on this story, I wanted to see what the substance was like inside the implants.
So, I borrowed a scalpel from Dr. Malhotra to cut into two of them -- a traditional silicone gel implant and a Gummy Bear implant.
The Gummy Bear implant was tougher to cut into because of its textured, thicker skin.
When I squeezed each of them, the gel inside both bulged out but went neatly back in place when I released.
The cohesiveness of the Gummy Bear implant’s gel was definitely more dense, making it easier to see why the product holds its shape.
CONSIDER THE "FEEL" AND THE "LOOK"
So, you might think the Gummy Bear implants are the biggest sellers, right?
As mentioned earlier, that's not the case.
Dr. Malhotra said the silicone gel implants are still the most popular.
"The regular silicone gel implants feel more like real breast tissue," he explained. “And that’s where personal choice comes in,” he added.
A pair of Gummy Bear implants does cost more. Here’s the breakdown in Dr. Malhotra’s practice:
- Saline implants - $5000
- Regular silicone gel implants - $6000
- Gummy Bear implants - $7000
Recovery time is about the same with all the implants.
Tammy Neelis only missed two days of work. She took off a Thursday and Friday to recuperate over a long, four-day weekend. She was back to work the next Monday morning.
We caught up with her at work about two weeks after the procedure to see how she was doing, She was all smiles and loving her new implants.
As for the feel?
“I do feel the same, but when I look in the mirror, I feel l like I think I should look,” she laughed. “Thumbs up! This is what I want to look like!”
And -- thanks to the 'mini-lift' from the Gummy Bear breast implants -- she was relieved not to have to get a breast lift, too. That would have involved more scars, a longer recovery, and a higher price tag.
Neelis was also excited about the 15-to-20-year estimated longevity of the Gummy Bear implants.
"These may be the only ones I ever have to get!" she said.
Dr. Malhotra explained that saline implants last about 12 years and regular silicone gel implants last about 15 years.
Of course, Gummy Bear implants have not yet been around 15-to-20 years to prove the manufacturer's estimates. So, we'll have to wait to see how the implants hold up.
As for risks, there is a slim 1% chance the Gummy Bear implant will rotate – moving that teardrop shape out of place.
The good news?
Dr. Malhotra says half of those patients can avoid additional surgery by rotating it back into place and stabilizing it with a tight bra for a time.
Again, which implant to go with -- comparing the look, the feel, the longevity, the cost, and the risks -- is a personal choice.