Keeping Your Hair Healthy After a Hair Transplant

healthy HAIR after a hair transplant Procedure

Hair follicles are the starting point for your hair growth. Follicles are glands at the top of the scalp that hold the only living part of your hair; the hair that you see on your head is not growing, and is actually considered “dead.”

We lose about 100 hairs a day, but new hair is constantly growing, so it is barely noticeable. Hair loss or balding occurs when the normal cycle of hair growth and shedding is disrupted due to stress, hormones, or other factors, or if the hair follicle is damaged or destroyed and replaced by scar tissue.

Hair thinning, hair loss, and baldness can be significant challenges for many people, both men and women. While some try to manage it on their own, many other people will pursue some type of hair restoration, such as medication.

Hair transplant procedures are also growing in popularity as an option for halting or even reversing hair loss. More than 100,000 hair restoration procedures are performed each year in the US alone, and that number continues to grow.

During a hair transplant, small groups of healthy hair follicles—called grafts—are removed from one part of the scalp—a “donor site”—and transplanted to the area of thinning or balding. Though this transplanted hair will fall out within a few weeks of the surgery—remember, the hair itself is dead, but the transplanted follicles are “alive” and healthy—new hair growth will begin in that area soon after.

If you have recently undergone a hair transplant or other type of surgical hair restoration procedure, taking care of your hair is now more important than ever. While hair thinning, hair loss, and baldness are heavily influenced by genetics, there are some steps you can take to help care for what you do have.

Haircare after a hair transplant procedure

Taking care of your hair helps prevent oil buildup, breakage, and split ends, which can weaken the hair. The ideal hair care routine varies with every individual, but some basics can help keep your hair—whatever its personality—healthy.

  • Less is more, especially when it comes to your shampoo. Although it’s designed to clean your hair, too much can strip your hair of the natural oils and minerals that keep it healthy and shiny. Many hair experts even discourage daily shampoo, suggesting you instead opt for an all-natural dry shampoo. You also want to avoid shampoos with excessive chemicals or fragrance. Look for products free of sulfates, parabens, dyes, GMOs, and mineral oils. These ingredients can dry out your hair, and cause buildup that dulls the shine.
  • Be gentle with wet hair, as it’s far more fragile than dry hair. Instead of using a harsh cotton towel to dry your hair, opt for an old t-shirt. Try to comb and detangle your hair before you wash it, and use a wide-toothed comb when you still have conditioner in your hair.
  • Beat the heat, as much as you can. While completely cutting out heat treatments may not be possible, limiting them is best. Invest in a hairdryer that has a cooling option, or a straightener that works without being over 300 degrees. Heat-protective products are also recommended.
  • A softer style works for your hair better than harsh up-dos. Loosen ponytails, braids, and any other hairstyle that puts a little stress on your roots. Additionally, try to limit products that make your hair too stiff or too big and opt instead for a little texture.
  • See your stylist regularly to trim split ends. Cutting off those dead ends every six to eight weeks promotes healthier, faster hair growth.

A healthy diet can help keep your hair healthy after a hair transplant procedure

There are a variety of foods that you can incorporate into a healthy diet that will help give your hair the nutrients it needs to grow full and healthy. Some of these foods include:

  • Fish, such as salmon, tuna, or trout, are rich in protein and Vitamin D, as well as omega-3 fatty acids
  • Walnuts are also rich in fatty acids, biotin, and vitamin E which help protect your hair against damage.
  • Eggs, in addition to protein, have zinc, selenium, sulfur, and iron, which carries oxygen to your hair follicles.
  • Blueberries are abundant in vitamin C, which is critical for circulation to the scalp.
  • Spinach has beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C—all of which benefit scalp oils.

Other factors that can help keep your hair healthy after a hair transplant procedure:

Sometimes, hair damage and loss can be attributed simply to age or other genetic factors; other times, it’s a result of daily habits. If you’re eating right but still having trouble with your locks, you may want to have your vitamin and mineral levels checked and take supplements as recommended by your doctor.

In addition to limiting product use, try to choose silicone-based products to limit the amount of damage done to your hair. Leave-in conditioners are also excellent for protecting hair and don’t forget about following the product directions precisely. Finally, be sure you trust your hairstylist—whether it’s a cut or a styling, they shouldn’t be hurting your scalp by doing their job.

Dr. Tim R. Love is a board-certified plastic surgeon with more than 30 years of experience in hair restoration procedures. He has worked closely with pioneers in the hair transplant field and continues to remain at the forefront of the latest innovations in transplant technology and techniques.

If you have questions about your hair transplant or think you may be a good candidate to receive this hair transplant procedure, call our office today at (405) 751-LOVE (5683) or contact us to schedule a consultation.

NeoGraft vs. Strip Method: Which Hair Transplant Method is Better?

NeoGraft vs. Strip Method: What is the best hair transplant procedure?

Thinning hair and hair loss affect millions of people, regardless of age or sex. Thinning hair and premature balding, which is heavily influenced by genetic and hereditary characteristics, can lead to low self-esteem and self-confidence. However, hair loss does not have to be permanent, and, in many cases, can even be reversed.
Technological advancements in the areas of hair transplant and restoration offer an alternative to the embarrassment of early hair loss. Two of the most common methods for hair transplants are the traditional strip harvesting technique and the newer NeoGraft® technique., but which is the best hair transplant procedure?

The Different METHODS of hair replacement

Strip method: The traditional strip harvesting technique, known as Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), involves removing the follicular units from the donor area as one group. The strip method allows the follicular units to be extracted intact, in their genetic form. Each follicular unit contains 1 to 4 hairs (the average is 2.2 hairs per follicular unit). The strip method requires expert surgical skill so the patient will achieve the best result while causing the least trauma to the donor site. It also allows healthy hair to harvest faster.
NeoGraft® method: The newer NeoGraft® method automates the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) procedure. The NeoGraft® method takes the hair out from the donor area with a cookie-cutter looking punch knife that has a diameter of approximately 1mm. This tool is inserted around one hair or a group of hairs known as a follicular unit. The tool makes a short, quick, rotational spin on the scalp to extract the hair follicle. This is done blindly, since the surgeon cannot see the root of the hair while inserting the tool into the scalp.

PROVEN Hair transplant procedures VS. NEW AND TRENDY

Strip method of hair transplants:

The strip method has a proven track record of success and provides natural looking permanent results.
NeoGraft® method: The NeoGraft® method is a newer and less proven procedure, often with increased surgical time, lower precision, and a higher cost to the patient.

AFFORDABILITY of the strip method of hair transplants

Strip method hair transplant costs: On average, the strip method cost $3 per graft.
NeoGraft® method hair transplant costs: On average, the cost is $4-6 per graft.
The average patient requires approximately 1,500 grafts.

Hair GRAFT QUALITY

Strip method hair transplant quality: Since the hair strip is taken out in a surgical suite with a well-positioned and visible surgical field and magnification, the strip method creates quality grafts with the best viability. This allows the surgeon to precisely remove the necessary follicles intact, which avoids trauma and the likelihood of cutting across and destroying hair follicles.
NeoGraft® method hair transplant quality: Graft quality is not as good compared to the strip method because the surgeon assumes that the direction of the punch knife and the hair shaft are the same and that the knife will not cut the hair across and damage it. The hair’s roots may change direction slightly as they are buried in the skin so the chance of cutting across the roots while taking them out is increased.

HAIR SELECTION

Strip method hair selection: The strip method makes it possible to choose the best donor hair. By taking out donor hair from the back of the head, which never grows completely bald in most people, the donor hair is resistant to the damaging effects of testosterone. The testosterone hormone is responsible for genetic hair loss. This healthy donor hair doesn’t care about its new location and stays in place since their genetic material makes them more resistant to hair loss.
NeoGraft® method hair selection: Donor hair is often taken from the broader section of the skull, and theoretically, even elsewhere on the body. Variety does not translate into quality since randomly chosen hair is not necessarily more resistant to hair loss.

POST Hair Transplant SURGERY HAIR STYLE

Strip method : While it takes a few days for the incision at the donor site to heal, the surrounding hair is not affected by the strip method. No haircut or change in styling is needed.
NeoGraft® method: In large hair transplant sessions, the entire donor area must be shaved to access the follicles. You may need to sport a new hairstyle for a while.

Visit our post about swimming after hair transplants. 

Hair Transplant Procedure SCARRING

Strip method scarring: The small linear incision resulting from the harvesting is usually covered by your hair. During subsequent procedures, the first scar is completely removed. With the strip method, the patient is left with only one incision, regardless of the number of procedures.
NeoGraft® method scarring: If the first NeoGraft® session requires 2,000 grafts, you’ll have 2,000 tiny round scars. If there are follow-up procedures this number will double, triple, and so on. With each subsequent session, the scarring with the NeoGraft® method increases. Moreover, if genetic hair loss continues or you happen to require several procedures, thousands of fine scars may become visible in the thinning donor area.

NEED HELP DECIDING which hair transplant procedure is right for you?

For more than 30 years, Dr. Tim R. Love has been on the cutting edge of hair transplant procedures for men and hair transplant procedures for women, working with some of the field’s most prominent experts and serving as a member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. Dr. Love provides a caring and compassionate approach to hair restoration, and is committed to delivering flattering, long-lasting, and natural-looking results. Don’t spend another day hiding your hair loss. Call us today at (405) 751-LOVE (5683) or contact us to schedule an initial consultation and find out if hair transplants are right for you.

How Soon can I Swim After a Hair Transplant

 

When can I go swimming after a hair transplant?

You may shower 48 hours after your procedure, but swimming after a hair transplant, regardless of the type of water, is strongly discouraged until you have been cleared to do so by your hair surgeon.

About Hair Transplants

Millions of people suffer from thinning hair, hair loss, and balding, and about 400,000 of them will seek a hair restoration or transplant procedure. Hair loss and balding occur when hair follicles are damaged and essentially “die.” During a hair transplant, small groups of healthy hair follicles—called grafts—are removed from a donor site somewhere else on the head and transplanted to the site with thinning or no hair.

One hair transplant session can take four or more hours, during which the hair surgeon will transplant several hundred or thousand tiny grafts. You may need multiple sessions to achieve your desired hair or if you continue to lose hair.

A hair transplant is an investment of time and money, and the optimal results of a hair transplant surgery are heavily dependent upon the care you take post-procedure. You want to make sure you give the newly transplanted hair grafts time to heal properly. This means taking the appropriate precautions to avoid hair growth or density problems in the future.

Hair transplant recovery expectations

Your scalp may be very tender after your hair transplant procedure, and you may be prescribed pain medication for several days. You will also be required to wear bandages over your scalp for up to 48 hours.

Healthy follicles are relocated during the transplant, but the newly-placed hair, which itself is dead, will fall out within two to three weeks. New growth typically begins eight to 12 months after the procedure, and your doctor may prescribe a hair growth medication or topical to help reduce or stop hair loss in the future.

Activity after a hair transplant

Although most patients return to work two to five days after a hair transplant procedure, strenuous activity is discouraged for approximately two weeks. This is partly because your stitches will not be removed for about 10 days after the surgery.

Again, you may shower 48 hours after your procedure, but swimming after a hair transplant, regardless of the type of water, is strongly discouraged until you have been cleared to do so by your hair surgeon.

Chlorinated water. Though chlorine keeps bacteria and viruses in the water at bay, the chemical could damage or irritate hair grafts or your sensitive scalp. Most hair surgeons will recommend you avoid chlorinated water for anywhere from two weeks to a month following the procedure.

Saltwater or fresh water: In the past, doctors recommended swimming in the ocean after a hair transplant, under the presumption that the salt could help to disinfect and speed up the healing process. Physicians now know this is not sound advice, as the possible contaminants and/or pollution in the water can dramatically increase your risk of infection.

Additional precautions with swimming after a hair transplant

In general, you should avoid any swimming for two to four weeks after your surgery, or until your surgeon clears you. Your hair grafts and donor areas of the scalp need time to heal, specifically for the scabs to heal and fall off on their own. This will reduce your risk of contracting an infection.

When you do begin swimming, there are a few other things to think about to keep your scalp and hair healthy. The most important recommendation is to be very conscious of the transplant donor area. For example, some diving techniques or other water activities may strain the area. Strain can occur when the chin touches the chest or similar “head down” positions. Any other position that causes pulling along the sides or back of the head should be avoided during the healing period. Failure to observe these precautions could slow the healing and hinder the success of the procedure.

When it comes to having a successful hair transplant, post-operative care is vital. It ensures that you’re comfortable and you’re promoting hair growth as effectively as possible.

Have additional questions about swimming after hair transplants or hair transplants in general? Ask Dr. Love!

Dr. Tim R. Love has been on the cutting edge of hair restoration technology for over 30 years. He has partnered with some of the most renowned experts in the field and remains committed to providing flattering, natural-looking results. He and his experienced Certified Hair Transplant Assistant, Clara Prather, offer a sensitive, professional approach to hair restoration with the goal of improving your confidence and self-esteem.

Don’t spend another day watching your hair fade. Call our office today at (405) 751-LOVE (5683) or contact us to schedule an initial consultation and find out if a hair transplant procedure is right for you. We accept patients from across the country and offer out-of-town patients a $300 reimbursement in the form of 100 free grafts to help offset travel costs.

 

 

When Can I Go Swimming After Plastic Surgery?

 

When can I go swimming after plastic surgery?

Like most major medical procedures, plastic surgery requires diligent recovery and aftercare recommendations. Although you can often return to work just days after a procedure, you will often be advised to avoid heavy lifting, running, or strenuous activity for anywhere from a week to a month or more.

If you resume vigorous physical activity or exercise too soon after plastic surgery, you run the risk of serious health complications. Certain activities can increase the risk of bleeding, swelling, or infection, and others can strain incision sites or sutures, causing them to rupture or reopen.

Swimming after plastic surgery

After you’ve made some changes to your body, it’s only natural that you’d want to head to the pool or lake with your renewed confidence and new look. Before you plan a trip involving swimming or water activities, it’s important to make sure it’s safe for you to go into the water.

While swimming is considered a low-impact activity, it can still pose a threat to fresh incisions and stitches. Cosmetic surgery often involves deep tissue and muscles that you may never have noticed, with sutures placed in several layers. Because of the “weightlessness” you feel in the water, you may be unaware of body movements that strain sutures, disrupt incision sites, or even cause scars to stretch, affecting their future recovery. External improvements in incision areas or scars do not necessarily mean everything on the inside has healed completely.

Moreover, wet, saturated sutures from being fully submerged may take longer than you think to dry out, becoming breeding grounds for bacteria and risking infection. Swimming makes keeping incision sites or sutures dry nearly impossible.

Risk of infection

All water, even treated, can harbor trillions of microorganisms. Many of them are harmless as long as they stay outside of your body. However, they become dangerous or even life-threatening if they enter an open wound or sore—like an incision site.

Chlorinated water. Chlorine is good for water, not for incision sites or sutures. The chemicals in chlorinated water can irritate raw skin.

Oceans, lakes, or rivers. Both salt and freshwater bodies naturally harbor contaminants and microorganisms that can cause infection when they enter the body or the bloodstream.

Hot tubs. The high heat in hot tubs makes them riskier than pools, saltwater, or freshwater. Because of this, you may have to wait a bit longer for a hot tub that you would for swimming in cooler water.

When can I swim again after plastic surgery?

Different procedures have different recovery times in regards to how soon you can submerge yourself or even get incision sites wet. Though you may be allowed to shower after 24 or 48 hours, some general guidelines for swimming and full submersion are:

Remember, these are just estimates. Every procedure is different, and every body is different when it comes to recovery. Be sure to attend all follow-up appointments with your plastic surgeon, and consult him or her before resuming exercise or physical activity. If you aren’t sure about a particular activity, be sure to contact your surgeon; it truly is better to be safe than sorry.

When you do resume water activities, do so gradually. Be cognizant of incision areas, sore muscles, or other sensitive areas. As with any physical activity, going too hard too fast and too soon can backfire. Not only could you injure yourself, but you may inadvertently cause harm to your new physique.

Sun exposure after plastic surgery

Whether you are in the water or near it, be sure to protect your incision sites. Scars are more sensitive to sunlight, and, with too much sun exposure, can grow darker than the surrounding skin. Make sure you use plenty of broad-spectrum sunscreen or cover your scars completely until they are fully healed.

Waiting can be hard when you are ready to show off, but it is well worth it. Swimming too early is an unnecessary risk and one that negatively affects your optimal results. You have invested time, money, and emotions into this procedure; don’t jeopardize your results by risking your health.

Have questions about swimming after plastic surgery? Ask Dr. Tim Love!

Dr. Tim R. Love is a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 30 years of experience helping people find their best bodies. He remains at the cutting edge of innovations in cosmetic techniques and technologies, and he is committed to delivering flattering, flawless results that look at feel natural.

Dr. Love offers a sensitive, professional approach to patient care. He takes the time to discuss your goals and concerns, establish realistic expectations, and create an individualized treatment plan that helps restore your confidence and self-esteem. If you are considering plastic surgery, call our office today at (405) 751-LOVE (5683) or contact us to schedule an initial consultation.

Swimming after plastic surgery infographic with wait times

Saline v. Silicone Breast Implants and the Gummy Bear Implant: Choosing Your New Boobs (Updated 10-2020)

SALINE VS. SILICONE BREAST IMPLANTS AND THE GUMMY BEAR IMPLANT

When it comes to breast augmentation surgery, your concerns are likely focused around the size of your implants and the final outcome; though, there are several questions you might want to consider, including:

These are all valid questions and concerns — and we can answer each one of them! However, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is also one of the first: do you want silicone or saline breast implants? Your decision will ultimately come down to personal preference and aesthetic goals. But now, there’s a new option to consider. Gummy bear implants are a fresh take on silicone and were officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012. They have become increasingly popular over the past few years. We’ll get to why later in this article. To help ensure you make an informed decision between silicone, saline and gummy bear, we’ve created a guide that covers all three. 

Choose wisely. There are a few facts about breast implants that are simply universal. It’s important to separate fact and fiction when researching breast augmentation surgery information. Here’s what you need to know: 

  • They aren’t meant for a lifetime. Breast implants, regardless of what type you choose, aren’t meant to last forever. You’ll likely need to either replace or remove them at some point in your life. However, some implants do last longer than others, so be sure to ask your doctor.
  • You aren’t alone. More than 310,000 women and teenagers underwent breast surgery to have their breasts enlarged with silicone or saline implants in 2018. Since 1997, the popularity of breast augmentation surgery has tripled! 
  • Surgery is still surgery, which means you’re at risk for infection. Proper after-care is essential to ensuring your breast implants remain unharmed. In addition to infection, your implants may become uneven, deflate, rupture, wrinkle, or any other number of possible complications. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor.
  • Though complications from breast augmentation surgery have been documented, both saline and silicone breast implants are considered safe by the FDA.
  • Speaking of aftercare, you’ll likely need MRI screening for silent ruptures. Just as a precaution for your health, MRI screenings every two years following the initial surgery can help protect you against rupture.
  • Material isn’t the only thing you have to consider, you also have a say in the shape and size of your implant. For instance, if your goal is cleavage, fullness and an all-around more substantial lift, round implants are a popular choice. Whereas teardrop-shaped implants can help provide a more natural-appearing fullness.
  • If you’re planning to have a child post-augmentation, breastfeeding could be a complication. This is more of an FYI than a warning — some women have been able to breastfeed just fine post surgery. 

Now that you have a better idea of what you can expect from the breast implantation surgery as a whole, you have a better basis for choosing between silicone and saline. But before you make your choice, let’s go over the potential pros and cons of each implant material. 

Saline Breast Implants

Saline breast implants consist of a silicone shell filled with sterile salt water (same consistency as water!). Saline implants were created as an alternative to silicone fill and became very popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. They can be pre-filled or filled during the implant operation. Today, saline implants account for 44-percent of all breast augmentation surgeries. Though these types of implants can come in different sizes, they are typically more round in shape (compared to the teardrop-shaped implants we mentioned previously). Saline implants have either smooth or textured shells.   

Patients considering saline implants should be aware of a few advantages, such as less noticeable body scars and easy modification. When the surgeon fills the implant during the surgery, the initial incision is usually smaller than it would be for silicone implants. This also allows your doctor to change the size of your implants over time without needing an additional surgery due to a valve which your doctor can access with a small needle. 

Saline implants are considered to be the safest option. An estimated 45-percent of women who choose silicone gel implants have to undergo reoperations within 10 years of the initial surgery. Using the same timeframe, only 20 to 26-percent of patients who choose saline have to undergo reoperation. Though rupturing is an uncommon event — the rupture rate is 3 to 10-percent at 10 years — if it were to happen the saline would be absorbed by the patient’s body. There would be no need to remove substantial breast tissue. This makes the rupture of a saline implant less problematic than silicone. Due to these lower repercussions, the FDA has approved saline implants for patients 18 years of age and older, compared to silicone implants’ minimum age of 22.

While complaints against saline implants are relatively low, the one common complaint has been that they don’t feel as natural as silicone implants. Variation in surgery technique and modified training has lessened these complaints, although the feel of saline is still different from that of silicone. 

Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone breast implants consist of silicone shells filled with silicone gel, and can encompass a variety of breast implant types — including the increasingly popular gummy bear implant (more on this in a bit!). In previous years, silicone implants have been hailed as being more “natural looking and feeling” than saline implants, but also present more health risks if they begin to leak. In fact, from 1992 to 2006, the use of silicone implants was halted by the FDA pending further research because they didn’t feel the implants were safe enough for public use. If you choose silicone breast implants, you may need to make more frequent visits to your plastic surgeon. An MRI or ultrasound can assess the condition of your silicone breast implants and whether they’re functioning properly. The FDA recommends women with silicone breast implants should receive an MRI every two years to check for ruptures or leaks within the implant shell.

Unlike saline implants, a rupture in a silicone implant can go undetectable. That’s because roaming silicone gel may remain trapped in the fibrous tissue that forms around the implant. This is known as a silent rupture. Although leaking silicone gel isn’t thought to cause any major health concerns, such as breast cancer, over time the rupture may cause breast pain, hardening, swelling, tingling, numbness or an uneven appearance of the breasts. Silicone ruptures are not incredibly common — the 10-year rupture rate for primary augmentation is between one and 10-percent. 

All that said, silicone implants have undergone a major overhaul: in addition to being perfectly safe, they have become widely popular. There are five types of silicone implants approved by the FDA. Each is manufactured slightly different, but the gummy bear is by far the most modern.

Gummy Bear Implants

The gummy bear implant is the newest choice on the block. Though it was introduced in the mid-2000’s, the FDA did not approve of them until 2012. Now, more than ever, women are seeking out gummy bear implants because of their natural look and feel. Because it’s a type of silicone implant, it’s only approved for adults over 22 years of age, or women of any age who are undergoing breast reconstruction following cancer. It is not approved for women who are pregnant or nursing. Gummy bear implants are great options for women who are looking for more volume in their breasts without the extreme shape of other options. These implants also provide a more natural droop to the bottom half of breasts. 

The gummy bear breast implant has made waves due to its original teardrop shape. Yes, it’s still a silicone shell filled with silicone gel, but its shape design helps contribute to its stability. Traditional saline and silicone implants are typically round in nature, but the gummy bear’s additional cross-linking results in a firmer shell that holds its shape, even when cut in half — much like a gummy bear candy. Clever, right? Essentially, that means in the event of a rupture, a gummy bear implant retains its shape. And not only do they retain their shape compared to other types of implants, they also stay naturally soft. Shape retaining plus a natural feel is a win-win. 

After years of studying gummy bear breast implants, which Dr. Love was a part of, the FDA has declared them safe and available to the public. While they add a more natural look to breast implants, they also require a larger incision during surgery. Like other implants, they may require additional surgeries in the future, and may become infected if not cared for properly. The gummy bear implant should not necessarily be considered “better” than the previous types of implants, just different to fit different needs: for women undergoing breast reconstruction, the gummy bear is ideal because it doesn’t require fitting around existing breast tissue.

Also, due to their strength, ruptures and leaks are less likely to occur in gummy bear implants than saline or other silicone options. But like their silicone counterparts, if leaks due occur they can be hard to detect. Regular MRIs and doctors visits are recommended to anyone who chooses gummy bear implants.

How do I choose my new Breast Implants?

Now that you know the basic differences between saline, silicone and gummy bear implants, you should be more prepared to make a decision on which options best suits your needs and lifestyle. However, this is an incredibly important decision! We recommend consulting with your plastic surgeon before making any final determinations. 

Dr. Tim Love is a board-certified plastic surgeon and a leader in breast augmentation in Oklahoma City. Dr. Love was one of only 20 U.S. surgeons selected to participate in the FDA’s historic “CORE” gel breast implant study leading to the reintroduction of gel implants in the U.S. During this study, he implanted the first patient in the U.S.

If you would like to schedule a personal consultation, please give us a call at 405-751-5683 or toll-free at 866-751-5683.

Feel free to check out Dr. Love’s patient testimonials to see what his clients have been saying! 

Saline v. Silicone Breast Implants and the Gummy Bear Implant: Choosing Your New Boobs (Updated 10-2020)

SALINE VS. SILICONE BREAST IMPLANTS AND THE GUMMY BEAR IMPLANT

When it comes to breast augmentation surgery, your concerns are likely focused around the size of your implants and the final outcome; though, there are several questions you might want to consider, including:

These are all valid questions and concerns — and we can answer each one of them! However, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is also one of the first: do you want silicone or saline breast implants? Your decision will ultimately come down to personal preference and aesthetic goals. But now, there’s a new option to consider. Gummy bear implants are a fresh take on silicone and were officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012. They have become increasingly popular over the past few years. We’ll get to why later in this article. To help ensure you make an informed decision between silicone, saline and gummy bear, we’ve created a guide that covers all three. 

Choose wisely. There are a few facts about breast implants that are simply universal. It’s important to separate fact and fiction when researching breast augmentation surgery information. Here’s what you need to know: 

  • They aren’t meant for a lifetime. Breast implants, regardless of what type you choose, aren’t meant to last forever. You’ll likely need to either replace or remove them at some point in your life. However, some implants do last longer than others, so be sure to ask your doctor.
  • You aren’t alone. More than 310,000 women and teenagers underwent breast surgery to have their breasts enlarged with silicone or saline implants in 2018. Since 1997, the popularity of breast augmentation surgery has tripled! 
  • Surgery is still surgery, which means you’re at risk for infection. Proper after-care is essential to ensuring your breast implants remain unharmed. In addition to infection, your implants may become uneven, deflate, rupture, wrinkle, or any other number of possible complications. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor.
  • Though complications from breast augmentation surgery have been documented, both saline and silicone breast implants are considered safe by the FDA.
  • Speaking of aftercare, you’ll likely need MRI screening for silent ruptures. Just as a precaution for your health, MRI screenings every two years following the initial surgery can help protect you against rupture.
  • Material isn’t the only thing you have to consider, you also have a say in the shape and size of your implant. For instance, if your goal is cleavage, fullness and an all-around more substantial lift, round implants are a popular choice. Whereas teardrop-shaped implants can help provide a more natural-appearing fullness.
  • If you’re planning to have a child post-augmentation, breastfeeding could be a complication. This is more of an FYI than a warning — some women have been able to breastfeed just fine post surgery. 

Now that you have a better idea of what you can expect from the breast implantation surgery as a whole, you have a better basis for choosing between silicone and saline. But before you make your choice, let’s go over the potential pros and cons of each implant material. 

Saline Breast Implants

Saline breast implants consist of a silicone shell filled with sterile salt water (same consistency as water!). Saline implants were created as an alternative to silicone fill and became very popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. They can be pre-filled or filled during the implant operation. Today, saline implants account for 44-percent of all breast augmentation surgeries. Though these types of implants can come in different sizes, they are typically more round in shape (compared to the teardrop-shaped implants we mentioned previously). Saline implants have either smooth or textured shells.   

Patients considering saline implants should be aware of a few advantages, such as less noticeable body scars and easy modification. When the surgeon fills the implant during the surgery, the initial incision is usually smaller than it would be for silicone implants. This also allows your doctor to change the size of your implants over time without needing an additional surgery due to a valve which your doctor can access with a small needle. 

Saline implants are considered to be the safest option. An estimated 45-percent of women who choose silicone gel implants have to undergo reoperations within 10 years of the initial surgery. Using the same timeframe, only 20 to 26-percent of patients who choose saline have to undergo reoperation. Though rupturing is an uncommon event — the rupture rate is 3 to 10-percent at 10 years — if it were to happen the saline would be absorbed by the patient’s body. There would be no need to remove substantial breast tissue. This makes the rupture of a saline implant less problematic than silicone. Due to these lower repercussions, the FDA has approved saline implants for patients 18 years of age and older, compared to silicone implants’ minimum age of 22.

While complaints against saline implants are relatively low, the one common complaint has been that they don’t feel as natural as silicone implants. Variation in surgery technique and modified training has lessened these complaints, although the feel of saline is still different from that of silicone. 

Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone breast implants consist of silicone shells filled with silicone gel, and can encompass a variety of breast implant types — including the increasingly popular gummy bear implant (more on this in a bit!). In previous years, silicone implants have been hailed as being more “natural looking and feeling” than saline implants, but also present more health risks if they begin to leak. In fact, from 1992 to 2006, the use of silicone implants was halted by the FDA pending further research because they didn’t feel the implants were safe enough for public use. If you choose silicone breast implants, you may need to make more frequent visits to your plastic surgeon. An MRI or ultrasound can assess the condition of your silicone breast implants and whether they’re functioning properly. The FDA recommends women with silicone breast implants should receive an MRI every two years to check for ruptures or leaks within the implant shell.

Unlike saline implants, a rupture in a silicone implant can go undetectable. That’s because roaming silicone gel may remain trapped in the fibrous tissue that forms around the implant. This is known as a silent rupture. Although leaking silicone gel isn’t thought to cause any major health concerns, such as breast cancer, over time the rupture may cause breast pain, hardening, swelling, tingling, numbness or an uneven appearance of the breasts. Silicone ruptures are not incredibly common — the 10-year rupture rate for primary augmentation is between one and 10-percent. 

All that said, silicone implants have undergone a major overhaul: in addition to being perfectly safe, they have become widely popular. There are five types of silicone implants approved by the FDA. Each is manufactured slightly different, but the gummy bear is by far the most modern.

Gummy Bear Implants

The gummy bear implant is the newest choice on the block. Though it was introduced in the mid-2000’s, the FDA did not approve of them until 2012. Now, more than ever, women are seeking out gummy bear implants because of their natural look and feel. Because it’s a type of silicone implant, it’s only approved for adults over 22 years of age, or women of any age who are undergoing breast reconstruction following cancer. It is not approved for women who are pregnant or nursing. Gummy bear implants are great options for women who are looking for more volume in their breasts without the extreme shape of other options. These implants also provide a more natural droop to the bottom half of breasts. 

The gummy bear breast implant has made waves due to its original teardrop shape. Yes, it’s still a silicone shell filled with silicone gel, but its shape design helps contribute to its stability. Traditional saline and silicone implants are typically round in nature, but the gummy bear’s additional cross-linking results in a firmer shell that holds its shape, even when cut in half — much like a gummy bear candy. Clever, right? Essentially, that means in the event of a rupture, a gummy bear implant retains its shape. And not only do they retain their shape compared to other types of implants, they also stay naturally soft. Shape retaining plus a natural feel is a win-win. 

After years of studying gummy bear breast implants, which Dr. Love was a part of, the FDA has declared them safe and available to the public. While they add a more natural look to breast implants, they also require a larger incision during surgery. Like other implants, they may require additional surgeries in the future, and may become infected if not cared for properly. The gummy bear implant should not necessarily be considered “better” than the previous types of implants, just different to fit different needs: for women undergoing breast reconstruction, the gummy bear is ideal because it doesn’t require fitting around existing breast tissue.

Also, due to their strength, ruptures and leaks are less likely to occur in gummy bear implants than saline or other silicone options. But like their silicone counterparts, if leaks due occur they can be hard to detect. Regular MRIs and doctors visits are recommended to anyone who chooses gummy bear implants.

How do I choose my new Breast Implants?

Now that you know the basic differences between saline, silicone and gummy bear implants, you should be more prepared to make a decision on which options best suits your needs and lifestyle. However, this is an incredibly important decision! We recommend consulting with your plastic surgeon before making any final determinations. 

Dr. Tim Love is a board-certified plastic surgeon and a leader in breast augmentation in Oklahoma City. Dr. Love was one of only 20 U.S. surgeons selected to participate in the FDA’s historic “CORE” gel breast implant study leading to the reintroduction of gel implants in the U.S. During this study, he implanted the first patient in the U.S.

If you would like to schedule a personal consultation, please give us a call at 405-751-5683 or toll-free at 866-751-5683.

Feel free to check out Dr. Love’s patient testimonials to see what his clients have been saying!