Shape Up: Breast Implant Shapes and Textures Explained

Updated on: July 30, 2018

Curious about breast implant shape and texture? Read on to learn everything you need to know before consulting a surgeon in your area.

Round breast implants

Round breast implants are just that: round. They can be filled with either silicone or saline and come in both smooth and textured surfaces. In terms of price, round implants are less expensive than anatomical implants (aka teardrop implants).

If a round implant "turns" in the pocket, it is still round and symmetrical, and will not cause any distortion in the shape of the breast. There is a flatter back side and rounder dome-like front side, and will occasionally “flip over” in particularly loose pockets.

It’s a common myth that round implants produce a more "fake" or augmented look than teardrop implants. This is not always the case. Round implants can look just as natural as anatomical implants, and vice versa. However, it’s more likely that an augmented look will be rendered with excessively large textured implants, especially when they’re placed over the muscle in markedly thin patients.

Round implants yield different results based on the projection (low to high) of the implant, as well as the pocket location (under or over the muscle). When a round implant is held in a vertical position, it actually takes on the same shape as the anatomical implant, which is proven through X-rays of women with breast implants.

Anatomical/teardrop breast implants

Anatomical implants were designed primarily for reconstruction purposes, but have since made their way into general breast augmentation. They were designed to produce a more natural-looking breast.

In general, when anatomical implants are viewed from the side, they appear to have more volume at the bottom, thus creating a “teardrop” shape. This causes the implant to be bottom-heavy, as there is more volume at the bottom of the implant versus the top.

There are many variables when choosing an anatomical implant that relate to the width, height and projection. Implants can be either more horizontal (short and a wide elliptical shape) or more vertical (tall with a narrow orientation).

It is possible for anatomical implants to "flip" or turn in the pocket. Because of this, all anatomical implants come with a textured surface that allows for tissue adherence, helping to keep the implant in the proper position. The textured surface essentially creates a Velcro-like effect. However, there is no guarantee that the implant will not flip. Because the positioning of the implant is very important, it’s vital that you choose a surgeon who is experienced in placing these types of implants. The pocket must be precisely created. If it isn't, the risk of the implant shifting or flipping increases.

implant shape and texture

Smooth vs. textured breast implants

Smooth implants move freely in the pocket, whereas textured implants do not. Textured implants have a thicker shell and a slightly higher rupture rate due to the imperfections in the shell. Smooth implants have thinner shells and tend to last longer when creases or folds do not occur.

Textured implants were designed to help prevent capsular contracture; however, studies vary on whether they really do or not. Some have shown that when the implants are placed under the muscle, there is no difference in capsular contracture rates, while others show a lower rate of capsular contracture. This subject is still debated.

As mentioned, textured implants are generally firmer than smooth implants, due to the thicker shell. However, traction rippling is still possible. This occurs when the overlying tissue grabs the implant surface and begins to "pull" on it. In the event that traction rippling occurs, the only option is to have another surgery and replace the implants. That said, rippling is also possible with smooth implants and tends to be most visible where the tissue coverage is thinnest--usually on the lower and outer portions of the breast and typically more prominent when leaning forward at the waist.

Which shape and texture is best for me?

No style of implant is superior to another. Some surgeons and patients prefer smooth to textured, anatomical to round, and vice versa. Consulting with a few plastic surgeons will give you a better idea of the option that is right for you.

The result you get with the type of implant you choose will depend on:

  • Your anatomy
  • The amount of tissue you start with
  • The placement of your implant by your plastic surgeon

Breast implant manufacturers in the United States

For more information on the various shapes and textures of implants available for purchase in the United States, visit these links:

Updated August 2016

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