Teardrop breast implants, also referred to as shaped or anatomic breast implants, are a very common topic that comes up during a breast augmentation consultation. Many women have the impression that they would like teardrop breast implants placed because they will look more like a natural breast.
What is a teardrop breast implant?
The teardrop implant on the left (which is laying flat) has less fullness in the upper pole. More of the volume concentrated in the lower pole. The round implant on the right has the volume distributed equally throughout the implant (when laying flat).
Teardrop and Round Breast Implants Compared
When a round breast implant is placed, and the person is upright, the effect of gravity will make a round implant take on a teardrop shape. Placing the implant underneath the muscle probably enhances this effect. The muscle only covers the top approximately 1/2 to 1/3 of the implant. The image on the right demonstrates the breast implant underneath the pectoralis muscle.
A teardrop breast implant has to be placed and oriented absolutely perfectly in order to produce a normal appearing breast. If there is any rotation of the implant, the appearance will not look normal. The only way to correct this is with surgical adjustment of the breast implant. A round implant can rotate without consequence. A round breast implant contains an equal distribution of the filler throughout the implant and has a constant diameter. It simply does not matter if the implant rotates.
The other big issue with teardrop breast implants is the textured shell. All anatomic, shaped, or teardrop breast implants have a textured shell. A very rare type of cancer has been found to be associated with textured shell breast implants. This is called breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This is a rare cancer with a lifetime risk of approximately one in 30,000. However it seems to be only associated with textured shell breast implants. In my opinion it is best to try and avoid this risk completely by avoiding textured shell breast implants.
I have been to national meetings where many pictures of patients with teardrop breast implants and round breast implants have been presented and compared. The bottom line is that it seems the majority of surgeons and patients alike can not tell the difference between patients with teardrop vs. round breast implants. Considering the disadvantages that go along with teardrop breast implants, for most patients smooth round breast implants appear to be the best choice for cosmetic breast augmentation.