There has been a recent buzz in the world of breast implants. A new saline implant called the “IDEAL IMPLANT” was featured in the September, 2012 edition of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. This implant, although far from ideal, is a saline filled implant with internal baffles. Baffles are pieces of the same material of which the outside shell of the implant is made. These are placed inside the implant and serve to limit the “wave action” of the saline solution when the patient moves around.

As a result, the bouncing, rippling and somewhat unnatural feel and look that characterize saline filled implants is less of a problem with an IDEAL IMPLANT.

On the outside the implant looks very much like a regular saline filled implant.

The outer shell is made of the same silicone material that all other saline and silicone filled implants are covered with. It is filled in the operating room via 2 valves, one on the back side that fills an internal chamber or lumen, and a 2nd on the front that fills an outer lumen. As a result of its novel design, the implant also tends to lie flush with the underlying chest wall when inside the patient, resulting in less of a “baseball” look that current saline filled implants typically have.

The article summarizes the result of an ongoing study in which 502 women underwent augmentation with the IDEAL IMPLANT in the year 2009. The women are being followed to see how the implants perform. After two years of study, the results are encouraging. They have a lesser degree of wrinkling than current saline implants as well as a lower rate of firmness. There have been some deflations, but these were felt to be due to manufacturing defects that have now been corrected. Patient and surgeon satisfaction with the IDEAL IMPLANT have been high, in excess of 90%.

So what do I make of this? Is this new saline filled implant really
“The Ideal Implant?” In a word, NO!

• 1st of all, it is a saline filled implant. Even the IDEAL IMPLANT will not be as soft, ripple free, and as natural in shape as a silicone filled implant. The FDA has unequivocally stated that silicone and saline filled implants are equally safe. Why not go with the superior silicone filled implant? Now some women cannot have a silicone implant since they are under 22 years of age and some women just do not want to have a silicone implant because of the need for MRI scans and the like. For these women, the IDEAL IMPLANT may be something to consider. They are as expensive as silicone implants, but it may be worth the cost.

• How long will these implants last? The study is only two years old and there have already been a number of implants that have failed due to manufacturing defects. IDEAL IMPLANTS are more complex than ordinary saline implants. Will the additional baffles also fail with time?

• When a failure occurs, will the manufacturer still be in business to honor the lifetime warranty that covers the implant? Current saline implants are manufactured by billion dollar corporations whose financial longevity seems guaranteed. What about this start up company? Will it still be around in 10 years to honor the warranty when your IDEAL IMPLANT fails?

• When a saline implant leaks, it deflates completely. Many patients do not want to go through this complication since it means that they will have a significant breast deformity until the implant is replaced, usually a minimum of a week or two. The IDEAL IMPLANT does not differ in this regard. For this reason as well, it is not ideal.

If you must have a saline implant, the IDEAL IMPLANT may be worth considering if it continues to hold as the years pass. Otherwise the silicone implants that most women currently choose would still seem to be much closer to the “Ideal Implant!”

Should you have further questions, please contact my office.

George Sanders, M.D.