The gummy bears have finally arrived, and I’m not talking about chewy candies. Gummy bear also happens to be the nom-de-boob of the next-generation silicone breast implant, so called because the gel inside is firmer than in current models.
Picture it like this. If you were to cut open implants now on the market, the clear gel inside would slowly form a puddle on the table. But not so with the gummy bears. “If you removed the shell covering, the silicone inside would retain its shape,” says Grant Stevens, a plastic surgeon in Marina Del Rey, California, who participated in trials of two brands and claims he gave them the nickname. “I got tired of explaining to patients that they’re sort of like Jello—which, when you cut it in squares, holds its shape. One day I just said, ‘They’re like gummy bears.’” Soft, but not runny.
Gummy bears appeal to women mainly because they hold their shape in the event of a rupture, and the chance of gel leakage is minimal. Some women also like the marshmallow texture. “When you hug someone, it’s so natural feeling. Not hard like my girlfriends’ saline implants. Gummies squish; they're bouncy," says a Los Angeles woman who took part in a clinical trial for one model.
In mid-March, the FDA gave the nod to Sientra to begin marketing gummy bear implants in tear-drop shapes, and insiders believe approval is coming soon for form-stable, highly cohesive gel implants from Allergan and Mentor, whose models are a bit firmer.
No matter how you describe the feel, the new implants still have all of the potential problems of the old: infection, asymmetry, nipple-sensation changes, hardening of the scar tissue around the implant, rupture, and implant fatique, requiring replacement after ten years. But fear of maintenance and side effects hasn’t stopped booming growth in breast implants. In 2011, there were 316,848 augmentation procedures, triple the number in 1997, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Silicone gel implants are twice as popular as saline ones.
While it's too soon to say what impact the availability of gummy bears will have on the numbers, it’s a fair guess that more bosoms facing upward on a beach blanket will also be reaching for the sun.
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