Breast Implants Around the World
by Cosmetics Expert Mike Dune
The breast augmentation experience is not a universal one. Different preferences among patients and different regulations among government health organizations make for wildly different surgeries from country to country. If you’ve ever wondered what this popular surgery is like for someone in another country, check out our rundown of how political, governmental, and cultural differences are changing the breast augmentation landscape around the world.
When Israeli plastic surgeon Dr. Jacky Govrin-Yehudain enlisted his brother, a prominent biomedical engineer named Dael Govreeen Segal, to help him develop a lightweight breast implant, he was hoping to solve a common complaint of breast augmentation patients: implants that were too heavy and contributed to gradual skin stretching and sagging. Today, the brothers’ B-Lite™ implants are CE approved, making them eligible for use within the European Union. B-Lite implants are up 30% lighter than silicone implants of the same size thanks to hollow microspheres suspended in the implants’ cohesive silicone gel. The biocompatible microspheres don’t move around within the implant or migrate outside of it, upping their safety. Today, B-Lite implants are in the process of gaining approval in countries outside of the EU and may soon appear in a plastic surgeon’s office near you.
Many people are familiar with the phenomenon of heading to South America for world-class cosmetic surgery. But some South Americans may soon be going abroad for their new bodies, thanks to a massive shortage of breast implants in Venezuela. The country’s longstanding economic troubles, tied to tight currency controls, have prevented the import of many foreign products. The uproar over the shortage of U.S.-made breast implants is a source of controversy among many Venezuelans, afraid that their image-obsessed countrymen are missing the bigger implications of the country’s hostility to imports. For now, women are turning to Chinese implants, which are less favored by plastic surgeons. Some are even bartering for implants on marketplace websites similar to Craigslist.
For most breast augmentation patients around the world, saline and silicone implants are the only 2 filler material options available. But a third option, called monobloc hydrogel, has been around for more than 30 years in France. Monobloc hydrogel implants, or MH for short, are filled with a mixture of saline and cellulose, which creates a gelatinous filling encased in a silicone shell. Created in the late 1970s by a Dr. H.G. Arion, a French plastic surgeon, MH implants are good options for French women who have had adverse reactions to silicone gel implants.
According to the website of Dr. Thomas Mustoe, a breast augmentation specialist based in Chicago, breast implant patients in the United States have their choice of saline or silicone breast implants. Previous implant types, which are no longer approved by the FDA, include soybean oil-filled and polypropylene string, which worked by irritating the breast capsule and causing it to fill with fluid. The most recent editions of silicone implants, known to many as “gummy bears,” contain a cohesive silicone gel similar to the one that’s found inside the Israeli B-Lites. Thanks to their extraordinarily natural look and feel, they’re the most popular implants in the United States today.