Is This The Future Of Breast Implants?

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
When woman typically think of breast implants, what usually comes to mind are silicone gel implants: gel-like, round sacks reminiscent of waterbeds. But after the FDA placed a moratorium on them in 1992 (they were approved again in 2006 with new safety regulations), women hoping to augment their breasts became skeptical of the risks and options became limited. Saline implants were usually out of the question, because they felt more like water balloons moving back and forth in your body than stable implants. But there's a new implant that's hoping to solve all of these issues in one fell swoop.

The Ideal Implant, created by Dallas plastic surgeon Robert S. Hamas, is basically a more natural feeling saline-filled implant. Dr. Hamas thought up the idea after a particularly bumpy airplane ride. "I had a scotch on the rocks and the plane hit turbulence and I noticed nothing spilled. My wife sitting next to me had a glass of water and it sloshed out," he told us. "And it got me thinking that maybe I could put something inside of a saline-filled breast implant to control the movement of the fluid, just like the ice cubes did with the scotch."

He did just that. He conjured up the implant in '92, when the FDA ban came to the forefront, but it wasn't until '06 when he started to really get the ball moving. That 14-year gap was mainly due to the fact that companies had their hearts set on gels — regardless of the alleged risks. "I didn’t realize that from their business perspective, they already knew how to make silicone gel implants and they just wanted to get approval to make them...I was trying to come up with something better. And different. And improved. And they just weren’t interested in it," he says. "Literally, by accident, someone suggested to me, ‘Why don’t you start a breast implant company?,’ and it was sort of like, well, I kind of have to because it’s not going to happen any other way."

From there, a number of plastic surgeons began investing in the idea, which helped fund the company. If all of this sounds too good to be true, there is a slight catch, according to The New York Times. For one, the Ideal Implant costs $1,500 a pair (not including surgical costs) which is more expensive than silicone implants. And two, the implant isn't readily available to everyone. The only people with access are the shareholders and 45 doctors that took part in the FDA investigation. But despite these slight setbacks, demand is still high, according to The NYT.
Photo: Courtesy of Ideal Implant.
What makes the Ideal Implant so superior? Well, Hamas is quick to point out that all implants have been approved safe to use by the FDA. But when the FDA specifically re-approved silicone gel implants as safe when they’re intact — it didn’t approve them as safe when they’re ruptured. And herein lies the problem.

"I think any woman who’s interested in breast augmentation is health conscience and concerned about the status of an implant in her body," he says. “[With] the Ideal Implant, you don’t have to do exams any certain period of time — you know it’s intact by looking in the mirror. If a saline implant fails, the body absorbs the saline; it gets smaller, so you can see the difference very quickly in a few days. Silicone gel, a lot of women call it maintenance because the FDA has said that they should get an MRI every year for life to see if it’s intact. An MRI’s about $2,000 dollars — which a lot of women can't afford — so they can’t do what the FDA recommends and they’re left kind of waiting to find out." We don't know about you, but we're not sure we'd want to take those chances.

With all invasive surgeries, you should consult your doctor first and weigh the pros and cons of each procedure. Whether you go with the Ideal Implant or not, it's your body and the choice is yours and yours alone.

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