Are anatomical (“tear-drop”) implants the best breast enlargement implant for you?

Written by: Professor Charles Malata
Edited by: Emma McLeod

Whether you’re considering a breast augmentation for cosmetic reasons, functional reasons or post-mastectomy, the decision of which type of implant you use (if you opt for an implant augmentation) can be a difficult one. Professor Charles Malata, a UK leading cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon in Cambridge and Peterborough, provides you with an understanding of anatomical (“tear-drop”) implants and their benefits to help you with your decision.

A upper body of a woman who is smiling with her eyes closed

What are anatomic breast implants?

Anatomical or “tear-drop” shaped implants are breast prostheses (artificial objects added to the body) which are shaped to mimic the form of a breast. They are slim at the top and widen towards the bottom to mimic a breast-like shape. They are also referred to as“contour profile” breast implants or “shaped” breast implants.


Anatomic implants can be filled with cohesive silicone gel or saline. If they are filled with cohesive silicone gel, they are sometimes referred to as “gummy bear” implants. My preference is the gel-type rather than saline-filled because the gel gives more natural feeling breasts. What’s more, the cohesive silicone gel does not run like a liquid even if the shell is broken. This is also referred to as form-stable gel and the implants referred to as “form-stable” implants. Because this cohesive silicone gel is firmer than standard silicone gel, anatomical implants can shape the breast tissue better than round implants.


Who are anatomical implants suitable for?

Most patients undergoing breast enlargement or breast implant exchange are suitable for anatomical implants. They’re also popular or recommended for patients undergoing revision breast surgery, such as patients who require a PIP (poly implant prostheses) implant removal.

See below under “Why are anatomical implants so popular?” for more specific groups of woman who anatomical implants can benefit.


What results can you expect from anatomical breast implants?

Anatomical implants are designed to give larger, fuller, perkier, and more natural-looking breasts. They blend into your figure and avoid the “done” or “operated” look. You can expect youthful-looking, attractive, and beautiful breasts following enlargement with anatomical breast implants.


I prefer to use anatomical implants in over three-quarters of my breast implant augmentation patients. The overall aim is to enhance each individual patient’s figure by creating breasts which better fit their figure or build and restore harmony.


How do they compare to round implants?

The choice of implant depends largely on:

  • what the patient is looking for (their preferences)
  • their body type and shape
  • the experience of the surgeon


Anatomical implants compare very favourably to round implants, but they are unique in that they more reliably give natural-looking breasts and avoid the “operated” look which can sometimes occur with big round implants.


Both types of implants, however, do achieve satisfactory breast enhancement and it is possible to achieve excellent cosmetic results with both types. In my practice, round implants are usually requested by patients who want to have a fuller upper pole look and they have heard, usually from friends or family, that round implants are the best way to achieve this objective.


However, most round implants contain a gel which is softer than the gel found in anatomical implants, so they do not have the same ability to shape the breast as well as anatomical implants. Contrary to popular belief, anatomical implants do create adequate upper pole fullness.


Why are anatomical implants so popular?

They offer a natural look

Anatomical implants are so popular primarily because of the natural enhancement they give to the breasts as well as correcting shape problems and lax tissues. Therefore, they are particularly offered to patients who have previously breastfed or whose breasts have become deflated from childbirth or weight loss. If a patient desires naturally looking breasts, then anatomical implants will give them the teardrop shape which mimics the normal anatomy of the female breast.


To an extent, anatomical implants can also avoid the need for a breast lift operation in a few patients with mildly saggy breasts. Furthermore, they can lead to spectacular results in patients who have no breast shape at all i.e., they are very flat-chested to start off. The anatomical gel implants then add to their preformed breast shape.


They provide shape correction

Another reason for their popularity is that anatomical implants are better at correcting breast asymmetry than round implants. Therefore, if you have one breast which is smaller, larger or of a different shape compared to the other side, I can use the anatomical implants to restore balance and harmony to your chest. An additional advantage is that they can address shape issues for instance in patients who have tuberous breasts (also known as tuberous breast deformity or tubular breasts or constricted breasts).


They age well

Anatomical implants are also much less likely to lead to the “waterfall effect” when, with time (ageing or weight loss), the breast tissue sags over an implant. This usually happens with a round implant which is under the muscle (subpectoral) and often riding high. Anatomical implants avoid the slipping down of the breast tissue down the chest wall.


They are beneficial after mastectomy

They are also popular in breast reconstruction after mastectomy for cancer because after mastectomy, there is only skin and muscle to cover the implant - hence the breast shape has to be provided by the implant. This makes anatomical implants largely preferable to round ones in breast reconstruction surgery.


With Professor Malata’s guidance, you can ensure that you’re choosing the best breast procedure for you – learn more and arrange your consultation.

By Professor Charles Malata
Plastic surgery

Professor Charles Malata is a British and American trained consultant plastic surgeon specialising in breast augmentation (boob jobs), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), rhinoplasty (nose jobs), breast reconstruction after mastectomy (DIEP flap reconstruction), breast reduction, facelift and body contouring after weight loss. He is the most senior reconstructive breast plastic surgeon at the Cambridge Breast Unit at Addenbrooke's University Hospital, Cambridge and was also voted by his colleagues and peers as one of the top ten breast plastic surgeons in the country. He undertakes the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery both in Cambridge and Peterborough. His before and after photographs can be found in his extensive medical publications.

Professor Malata graduated from the University of Zambia Medical School in 1984 and then carried out his general surgical training on the Newcastle & Leeds University Hospital rotations. He underwent plastic surgery training at the prestigious and world famous Canniesburn Hospital in Glasgow obtaining the Intercollegiate FRCS in Plastic Surgery in 1997. He then took up substantive subspecialty fellowships in breast & cosmetic surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington DC and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

He is a research professor (visiting professor) at Anglia Ruskin University School of Medicine and lectures both nationally and internationally on aesthetic and reconstructive breast surgery and free flap surgery. He was the President of the European Society for Surgical Research (ESSR) in 2011-2013 and has an active academic and clinical research interest with over 280 publications and currently supervises research projects for PhD & MSc students, registrars and medical students. In addition, he works as an associate editor for Frontiers in Plastic Surgery and is an editorial board member of the European Surgical Research Journal and Gland Surgery Journal. He reviews for multiple professional journals.

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