When it comes to breast implants, silicone and traditional saline have been the only options since modern breast implants were introduced in the early 60s. It has been a constant back and forth as to what type of device was “better” for the patient, trying to find the balance point between a soft, natural feeling breast (slight edge to silicone) vs. an implant that was “safe” if it ruptured (edge to saline). Neither option was perfect and so a new option has now entered the market that attempts to combine the benefits of both silicone and saline implants. Enter the Ideal® Implant, which became FDA and Health Canada approved in 2014.
Regular saline implants are like a water balloon with just a single shell layer, which tends not to feel very natural. Silicone implants are much softer and feel like a natural breast; however, despite numerous studies showing their safety, some women do not want to have a silicone implant because it is not a “natural substance”. The Ideal Implant is filled with saline. However, it is composed of several shells, providing a structure to the implant that controls the movement of the saline allowing it to hold its shape for a more natural look and feel than traditional saline implants. While most of us would probably agree that silicone still feels a bit more natural, I have had many patients actually prefer the feel of the Ideal Implant when doing a blind feel test in my version of the “Pepsi Challenge”.
Safety of Saline
Studies have shown that silicone is essentially inert in the body, is not absorbed and does not seem to cause any health issues. However, some patients are still worried about the potential for silicone to leak from the implant, either as part of a rupture or as silicone gel bleed through the shell. Despite its natural feel, the Ideal Implant has no silicone gel to worry about so patients can now have a more real breast feel with the peace of mind that comes with saline.
No More “Silent Rupture”
Implant ruptures are rare but do still happen at a rate of about 1% per year across all implants. Although it sounds like an explosive process, a rupture is typically just a small hole in the shell that occurs from natural wear and tear. A silent rupture occurs when silicone implants keep their shape despite the shell being damaged. This allows the rupture to go unnoticed, which is why in the US it is recommended that patients with silicone implants undergo MRI every three years to assess their integrity. Saline implants deflate regardless of how small the break in the shell is, making it known relatively quickly that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. This eliminates the need for regular MRIs to inspect the condition of the implant; however, it leaves the patient with a deflated breast on one side, which can be quite unnerving. The Ideal Implant will deflate enough to indicate a rupture has happened, but will not fully deflate because of the second, intact chamber.
Low Complication Rate
Aside from eliminating silent rupture and silicone gel bleed, studies up to this point indicate the Ideal Implants have a reduced risk of other complications like rippling and capsular contracture. This is most likely because the multiple layers of shell that make up the implant resist deforming more than any other single-shelled implant, saline or silicone.
Is The Ideal Implant Right for You?
It is important to keep in mind that there is no one plastic surgery procedure or product (including breast implants) that is right for everyone. It’s important to have an in-person consultation with a board or Royal College certified plastic surgeon to be assessed properly and have a plan customized to your needs. I personally use every implant on the market (including the Ideal Implant), to ensure that every breast augmentation patient gets matched with the implant that is right for them.
Learn more about Dr. Mathew Plant’s practice: https://drmathewplant.com/