'Gummy Bear' implant latest trend in breast augmentation

May 23, 2012, 06:08 IST | ANI

More women are seeking out a type of silicone breast implant that one doctor has dubbed as the "gummy bear."

Dr. Grant Stevens, a prominent plastic surgeon in Marina Del Rey, Calif., coined the term “gummy bear breast implant.”

The reason he gave the implants their catchy nickname was because when cut in half, the implant is stable and retains its shape, much like the chewy, gummy bear candies.

Stevens is an advocate of the “gummy bears” because he believes that they look and feel more like natural breasts.

He insisted that “gummy bears” are also safer than other types of implants because they have a lower rupture rate.

“The ‘gummy bear’ breast implants are new to Americans,” a news channel quoted Stevens.

“They’re cohesive gel, and they’re form-stable. They keep their shape,” he said.

These new “high-strength silicone gel implants” were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

But neither the agency nor the company who manufactured them calls them “gummy bears.”

“We do not condone the use of such terms,” CEO of the lingerie company said in an email interview.

He said equating a medical device to a piece of candy trivializes it.

Breasts are big business in the United States, with about $1 billion spent on cosmetic breast surgery a year.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 300,000 American women undergo cosmetic breast augmentation every year -- up 45 percent since 2000.

For years, this type of high-strength silicone gel breast implant was only available to patients in the U.S. who were willing to take part in clinical trials through surgeons like Stevens.

For some patients, it’s their second breast augmentation surgery.

Aubrie Chacon said she wanted to get her breast implants redone because her current ones felt like “weird water” under her skin.

“I would like something that felt more natural,” she said.

“Not so fake, not so foreign,” she said.

Christy Carlton, another one of Stevens’s patients, said she got her Sientra breast implants through a clinical trial six years ago, and hasn’t had any problems since.

She added that her partner didn’t know that she had breast augmentation surgery until she told him because she said her breasts looked and felt so natural.

The FDA said it had no opinion on whether these Sientra implants are better or worse than the ones already on the market, and the agency said it did not conduct tests to compare different kinds of implants.

But FDA officials confirmed that the company's eight-year clinical trial with the implants, which tested the product on nearly 1,800 women, showed that the they were safe and effective.

Although Stevens swears by what he calls the “gummy bear” implants, other plastic surgeons don’t.

Dr. Garth Fischer is one of the top plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills who says that while he sees the benefits of the “gummy bears,” he prefers the conventional round implants, and suggested that surgeons who don’t have his skills may use the “gummy bears” as a crutch.

“‘Gummy bears’ have been around a long time,” he said.

“[But] I think some doctors need that shape maybe because they can’t create it on their own,” he said.

Dr. Robin Yuan is another prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and the author of “Behind the Mask, Beneath the Glitter,” a guide for patients considering a surgeon.

He acknowledged that it can be confusing for patients, especially when doctors sell one technique over another, and patients have little basis to judge which approach is best for them.

“You can’t say a Rolls Royce is better than a Ferrari,” he said.

“They’re both cars that get you from A to B but they have different characteristics.”

“I think there are very few patients who go to a neurosurgeon and ask what drill they’re going to use to open their skull,” Yuan said.

“But they ask that of plastic surgeons. Most of the time, in other professions, they just trust the doctor to do what’s appropriate in certain conditions,” Yuan added.

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