At Atlantic Coast Aesthetics, our practice depends on keeping track of trends. One trend that we’ve noticed a lot of lately are questions about “anatomical” or “anatomically correct” breast implants as opposed to traditional round implants. This week’s ACA Question of the Week does not come from one particular patient, but is rather a distillation of a number of questions we have received recently in the same vein about these implants. Dr. Thomas A. Pane, our founder and Chief Medical Officer, wanted to address these questions in a more universalized way, because in reality there is a fairly simple, universal answer.
In general, Dr. Pane says, anatomical breast implants are not considered the “go to” option for implant procedures. The reason for this is because of their shape. Anatomical implants are narrower at the top and rounder at the bottom. By contrast, round breast implants have no “top” or “bottom” to speak of. Gravity dictates which side is which, because the filler inside the implant will settle to the lowest point, forming the same shape.
The crucial difference is that the round breast implant can be placed in any attitude and shift as much as it wants to within the patient’s body without a noticeable difference in performance or breast shape, barring some form of direct trauma to the implant itself such as blunt-force trauma from a car accident. In the case of anatomical breast implants, they are designed to be rigid and face only one way. If the surgeon somehow slips up and forgets which way the implant is supposed to be oriented, or the implant shifts for whatever reason, it will retain the original shape rather than forming itself to the force of gravity.
This results in an odd-looking breast profile where the narrower and wider sides are incorrectly placed, causing the breasts to appear uneven or just “wrong.” When this happens, unlike round breast implants, there is no corrective action short of surgical revision that can fix the problem. Round breast implants can and do move somewhat freely within the body without the patient even noticing, and without any particular impact on the aesthetics of the bust line, something that is not true of anatomical implants.
For patients who are more interested in anatomical implants than round ones for purely aesthetic reasons, Dr. Pane also points out that in a recent study, observers trained in cosmetic surgery were asked to pick out patients who had received anatomically correct implants from those who had received round ones. The observers had only a 50% success rate in selecting which ones were which, or exactly the same odds as could be expected from a coin toss. Therefore, from a purely observational standpoint, there is no distinguishable difference, given that the anatomical implants are placed in the correct attitude relative to the patient’s breast.
However, Dr. Pane notes that while anatomically correct implants are not a “go to” option for the reasons noted above, there are some cases in which the anatomical implant might be a better option. These cases often involve breast reconstruction surgery after accidents, injuries or mastectomy procedure, where the underlying shape of the implants aids in rebuilding the tissue above the breast itself. However, because these are extreme cases, generally speaking Dr. Pane prefers the round implants over anatomical ones when and where possible.
Another factor that may influence implant performance is the question of silicone, saline or other filler for the implant. Each of these has their own pros and cons, and this is a question that is really better suited to an in-person clinical evaluation of the breast area and what results the patient is looking for. However, regardless of type of filler, a round implant will normally perform better, with less chance of deformation, than an anatomically correct one. For this reason, it is unlikely that an anatomically correct implant will be the default choice for most patients.
If you have a question relating to breast implants or anything involving cosmetic surgery, Dr. Pane and the staff of ACA welcome the opportunity to address your points of interest and concern. Simply call us at (561) 422-4116, email us at http://acplasticsurg.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Your question may even be the next ACA Question of the Week, answered by Dr. Pane live on the air as part of an upcoming Google Hangout. At Atlantic Coast Aesthetics, we believe an informed patient is our best assistant in delivering great results, and so the only bad question is the one you don’t ask!