Teardrop (Shaped) vs Round Breast Implants: What’s the Difference?
Breast implants come in many different shapes and sizes. To pick the right implant, patients (and their surgeons) must choose between a number of options. While choices regarding implant size and implant type (material) tend to get the most attention, another important factor to consider is implant shape: teardrop or round.
Teardrop implants (also known as shaped or anatomic implants) feature a shape that is designed to mimic the appearance of a natural breast. This type of implant has an asymmetric shape, with a thin upper area that gently slopes into a more full, round base. The majority of the implant’s volume occurs in its lower portion.
Teardrop implants are commonly constructed from semi-solid gels like the popular “gummy bear implants” (cohesive silicone gel). These materials are relatively firm and stable, allowing them to maintain their teardrop shape while still remaining soft to the touch.
Round implants are the most common breast implant shape used for cosmetic breast augmentation. Round implants look like a compressed circular sphere that is completely symmetrical. Round implants typically have a more fluid-like consistency comprised of either saline or silicone. They come in varying degrees of projections (forward distance from the chest wall) and diameters.
Benefits and Differences
Appearance: Many patients think that teardrop implants will look more natural since they come “pre-shaped”. However, round implants can also look natural since their liquid-acting fillers tend to settle at the bottom of the implant while in an upright position. In fact, round implants tend to look more natural when the patient is lying down as their filler becomes evenly distrusted, whereas teardrop implants remain constricted to their original shape.
Rotation: Since teardrop implants are asymmetrically shaped, they carry a risk of rotating within the breast pocket. This implant rotation issue can compromise the shape and symmetry of the breasts and require corrective surgery to fix. Round implants are perfectly symmetrical and thus they carry no risk of rotating.
Other Complications: To limit the chances of rotating within the breast pocket, teardrop implants are only available with a textured or rough service. This textured outer shell can make teardrop implants more prone to wrinkling, which can potentially lead to notable rippling of the implant. Additionally, textured implants are associated with an increased risk of capsular contracture, the development of internal scar tissue that forms a tight constricting capsule around the implant.
Incision: Compared to a round implant, the shape and textured shell of a teardrop implant usually require larger incisions in order to place the implant into the breast pocket. This equates to a higher chance of realizing noticeable scarring as well as a longer recovery period.
Cost: Teardrop implants typically cost more than round implants. Additionally, surgical procedures involving teardrop implants are often more complicated and time consuming compared to a procedure utilizing a round implant, leading to a sometimes higher surgeon fee.
Which implant type is right for you?
There are no studies that prove the superiority of round implants over shaped implants (or vice-versa). In terms of cosmetic breast procedures, many plastic surgeons tend to favor round implants for their overall simplicity and historical record of providing excellent results.
Teardrop implants are most commonly used for breast reconstruction (following mastectomy) as often there is no breast tissue remaining after surgery. However, breast augmentation patients who prefer above muscle implant placement and/or have little-to-no natural breast tissue can also benefit from using a teardrop shaped implant.
In the end, the best implant for each individual patient will depend on their specific needs and goals in terms of desired end result. The best way to determine which type of implant is right for you is to discuss your desired outcome and questions with a surgeon.
Update (January 4, 2022):
Since textured breast implants have been associated with a low risk of an uncommon and highly treatable type of lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), most plastic surgeons are not currently offering textured implants. The FDA does NOT currently recommend removal of textured breast implants in asymptomatic women.
Smooth implants (silicone or saline) continue to demonstrate an excellent safety and satisfaction record and continue to be recommended.
Please reach out to us with any questions!