A Brief History

Below is a brief history of Breast Implants and Breast Augmentation in general. All FDA approved Breast Implants that are currently available in the US are featured, as well as many of the Breast Implants that preceded them. It is not meant as an exhaustive listing of all Breast Implants, as several popular past choices are not mentioned for clarity.

2012 marked the entry of a new US based and FDA approved Breast Implant manufacturer. Long time US Breast Implant manufacturers, Natrelle® (Allergan) and Mentor® (J&J) where joined by newcomer Sientra® (OPUS®). Sientra® brought the first FDA approved high-strength silicone gel filled, “gummy bear” teardrop shaped breast implants to the US market. Sientra® uses this soft, form-stable silicone gel in all their implants, sometimes referred to as “gummy bear” breast implants. Natrelle® (Allergan) and Mentor® (J&J) have since received approval for their own versions of shaped silicone gel implants: Natrelle® style 410 and Mentor® CPG line, respectively.

Before Breast Implants

The First Breast Implants

  1. Core Post-Approval Studies (Core Studies) – To assess long-term clinical performance of breast implants in women that enrolled in studies to support premarket approval applications. These studies were designed to follow women for 10 years after initial implantation.
  2. Large Post-Approval Studies (Large Studies) – To assess long-term outcomes and identify rare adverse events by enrolling more than 40,000 silicone gel-filled breast implant patients and following them for 10-years.
  3. Device Failure Studies (Failure Studies) – To further characterize the modes and causes of failure of explanted devices over a 10-year period.
  4. Focus Group Studies – To improve the format and content of the patient labeling.
  5. Annual Physician Informed Decision Survey (Informed Decision Study) – To monitor the process of how patient labeling is distributed to women considering silicone gel-filled breast implants.
  6. Adjunct Studies – To provide performance and safety information about silicone gel-filled breast implants provided to U.S. women from 1992-2006, prior to approval, when implants could only be used for reconstruction and replacement of existing implants.
  • 2011 – The FDA releases the Update on the Safety of Silicone Gel-Filled Breast Implants. The conclusion: breast implants, while not perfect, remain safe and effective. The most common problems associated with breast implants remain: capsular contracture, reoperation and implant removal (with or without replacement). Other frequent complications include: implant rupture, wrinkling, asymmetry, scarring, pain, and infection, among others. These observations are consistent with the local complications and adverse outcomes that were known at the time of approval, and there remains no apparent association between silicone gel filled breast implants and connective tissue disease, breast cancer, or reproductive problems.
  • 2012 – The FDA approves the first High-Strength (aka Gummy Bear) Silicone Gel Filled Breast Implants for the US. Nearly two decades after Europe approves the change to a soft, “solid” gel filler with remarkably low failure rates, the US catches up. Somewhat surprisingly, the first company to receive approval is a new company, Sientra, rather than Allergan or Mentor. Like its rivals, Sientra is based in Santa Barbara, California, United States. The company originally contracted with long-time breast implant manufacturer Silimed for its manufacturing.
    The move to form-stable fillers makes possible the manufacture of soft, solid, shaped implants, that can better maintain lower pole fullness for breast reconstruction and the treatment of congenital breast defects like Tubular Breasts and Poland Syndrome.
  • 2013 – In February, the FDA approves Allergan’s version of the shaped, highly cohesive (gummy bear). In June, the FDA approved Mentor’s CPG line of textured, shaped breast implants. Allergan’s 410 series and Mentor’s CPG line are a collection of breast implants of independently varying height, width and projection. This allows your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to have a wider selection of options when choosing the best implant for you.
  • 2018 – Sientra changed manufactures to Lubrizol LifeSciences and moved their manufacturing from Brazil (Silimed) to Franklin, Wisconsin, USA. They also started a new round of warranty upgrades. For more details, be sure to visit our Breast Implant Warranty Page.
  • 2019 – Sientra added a new Xtra High Profile line of implants to their OPUS® Luxe breast implant line. On July 24, 2019, Allergan® voluntarily withdrew their BioCell® textured breast implants from the world markets due to an association with a rare BIA-ALCL.
  • Regulatory History – Additional information in the regulatory history of breast implant in the US is available on the FDA website.
  • Currently Available Breast Implants

    Breast Implants come in hundreds of shapes, sizes and contours, making customization of results more practical. If you are looking for the fine details of today’s Breast Implants, be certain to visit our Currently Available Breast Implants Page. There you find listings of the types, sizes, dimensions, contours, profiles and fillers available from the three current US Breast Implant makers. Full catalogs from Natrelle® (Allergan), Mentor® (J&J) and Sientra® (OPUS®) are available to view.

    Natrelle® (Allergan) Breast Implants

    Natrelle® (Allergan) – Allergan offers a full line of both Saline filled Breast Implants and Cohesive Silicone Gel filled Breast Implants. Both saline and silicone gel filled round implants are available and come in a variety of profiles and dimensions. Allergan is the manufacturer, and their Breast Implants are marketed under the brand name Natrelle®. Their texturing process, called BioCell® was associated with a rare lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) and was withdrawn from the world markets on July 24, 2019.

    ® (J&J) Breast Implants

    Mentor® (J&J) – Mentor® also offers a complete line of Breast Implants including both Saline filled Breast Implants and Silicone filled. Mentor’s® Silicone Breast Implants are marketed under the brand name MemoryGel®, and their textured Breast Implants are marketed as Siltex®.

    Sientra® OPUS® Breast Implants

    Sientra® (OPUS®) – Sientra® is the newest company to offer FDA approved Breast Implants. They do not have a Saline filled Breast Implant line. Sientra® offers smooth round, textured round and textured shaped Silicone Filled Breast Implants. Their textured Breast Implants are marketed as TRUE Texture The aggressiveness of Sientra’s TRUE Texture texturing is slightly more aggresive than Mentor’s® stamped on Siltex® texturing.

    They are the first US company to use a high strength silicone gel filler in their Breast Implants. This type of implant has been available outside the US for several years, and is sometimes referred to as the Gummy Bear Breast Implant. The high strength gel provides stability of form and allows Sientra® to manufacture the first FDA approved teardrop shaped silicone gel Breast Implants in the US.

    The same high strength gel used in the textured teardrop shaped Breast Implants is also used in their Round Breast Implants. Recently released 5-year data shows that the leakage rate for these Silicone Breast Implants is about half that seen in the PMA data of previous manufacturers. The reported 5-year gel migration rate is a very reassuring 0%.

    For more information about your options in Breast Implants, be certain to visit our Breast Implants Page. For more information about the currently available breast implants visit our Currently Available Breast Implants Page.

    What’s Next in Breast Implants

    Now that the Gummy Bear, High-Strength, Form-Stable Silicone Breast Implants are available, what’s next? San Francisco Bay Area Breast Augmentation patients and Plastic Surgeons alike, want to know. The latest generation of breast implants provide for a reduction in one of the most frequent reasons for Breast Implant Revision Surgery – deflation. Since the centers are a soft solid, the new high-strength silicone gel resists migration. Even when the shell develops a rent, the filling is less likely to migrate outside the capsule.

    Capsular Contracture rates declined with the advent of cohesive silicone gel and low-bleed shells. Perhaps, the next generation of breast implants will have a coating which further reduces the risk of capsular contracture.

    Larger implant sizes. While this is a problem for a minority of Breast Augmentation patients, larger breast implant volumes are needed for some Breast Reconstruction patients. Currently, matching procedures like a breast lift or a breast reduction, are performed on the opposite breast during breast reconstruction. If larger breast implant volumes where available, fewer matching breast reductions would be needed.

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