Ask Dr. Barber
Q. I am contemplating a breast augmentation in the next year or so. I am researching implant options and I remember reading in Kernersville Magazine a year or so ago about a new implant called the Ideal Implant. Can you tell me if you have experience with this implant and if you think it is a good alternative to the silicone gel implant?
A. Yes, I do have experience with this implant and I do think it is an excellent implant that can be an alternative to the silicone gel implant or the standard saline implant. The Ideal Implant was FDA approved several years ago and became commercially available just over 2 years ago. It was developed by a plastic surgeon in Dallas who was looking for an implant that did not have ripples along the edge of the implant, like the standard saline implant suffers from. The ripples on the implant edge can sometimes be felt on the surface of the breasts and patients do not like that, of course. What the doctor who developed the new implant did was place baffles or multiple chambers inside of the saline implant, which created what we now call a “structured saline implant”. These baffles inside of the implant significantly reduce the formation of rippling on the surface of the implant. The Ideal Implant is less like a water balloon (standard saline implant) and more similar to the firmness and structural integrity of a silicone gel implant. In terms of the way it feels outside of the body, it is a hybrid feel between the standard saline implant (think water balloon), and a silicone gel implant which is firmer. Because the implant does not ripple like a standard saline implant, it can be used in women with smaller breasts who do not want silicone gel, however a traditional saline implant has too high a risk of palpable rippling in a very small breast. The Ideal Implant can also be used instead of a silicone gel implant, because it has the feel that is closer to the silicone implant. Don’t get me wrong, the traditional saline implant is a great implant, and I still use it in most of my augmentations, but not everybody is a good candidate for it.
As for my experience with the Ideal Implant, to date I have implanted it in about 45 women. The number of women asking for this implant is increasing as its reputation grows as a good implant, and I believe that it may someday be implanted more than the regular saline implant. My experience overall has been very good. In a recent study that I authored and presented at our state plastic surgery meeting, 100% of the patients with the Ideal Implants were happy that they chose this implant, which was the same satisfaction rate as silicone gel implants and slightly higher than the standard saline implant. I have had one patient who does complain about being able to feel rippling, and I too am able to feel the rippling on examination. She is not bothered enough that she wants to change to another implant type, however. Overall, I believe the Ideal Implant has a place in the menu of implant options.