The Different Materials Used for Grafts and Implants in Plastic Surgery

There are many procedures available to plastic surgery patients that require some form of a graft or implant to get the best looking and the longest lasting results. Patients and surgeons have a lot more options in their choice of material used for the graft or implant, but it can be hard to know which will be the best option. To help you get a better understanding of graft and implant materials, here is a general description of the most common types.


First of all, it’s important to differentiate between a surgical graft and a surgical implant. A graft is a medical term for a material that is taken from one part of your body and then inserted or placed at another part of your body. The materials can be your own body tissues or fluids and usually have the lowest risk of rejection or other complications.

Cartilage is one of the most common types of grafts used in plastic surgery. It’s seen most often in rhinoplasty, but it can be utilized in other procedures as well. The cartilage is usually harvested from the patient’s ear or rib, as these are spots where the shapes and functions are not dramatically altered by the donation. Surgeons like using this cartilage for grafts because it is a readily available material and greatly reduces the risk of complications because the patient’s own body tissues are being used.

Another common grafting material is fat, typically from around the patient’s middle, buttocks, or thighs. This is another material that is easy to access and is commonly used in facial procedures. The surgeon harvests the fatty deposits using liposuction and then separates the material so that only the good cells are used in the procedure. The fat transfers are then injected into the appropriate site to give a patient better volume, structure, and tightness across the skin.

Bone can also be used as a graft, though this occurs less often and usually involves using the bone that is available at the surgical site. For example, on a chin augmentation, a surgeon can remove some of the jaw bone that creates the shape of the chin and reposition it using screws. Bone grafts are more common in medicinal procedures rather than cosmetic procedures, but it is a possible option for plastic surgeons.


An implant is a foreign material that is created and shaped prior to the patient’s surgery and then inserted into the appropriate site. There are even more options for material choices available to plastic surgeons depending on the type of procedure, but the most common ones used are silicone, Gore-Tex, and Med-Por.

Silicone is the most common type of material used for implants and has been used in plastic surgery for decades. It’s easy to mold into a specific shape, it’s flexible, and it can be placed in a number of different locations on the body. Depending on where the implant needs to go, the silicone can come in a hard, rigid shape, or it can have a hard exterior that is filled with silicone gel to make the implant softer and a little more flexible. Silicone implants also have a low rate of patient rejection and complications, so most surgeons feel comfortable using them as their go-to choice for implants.

Gore-Tex is a newer implant material made of expanded poly-tetrafluroethelene. Rather than coming in a gel or solid form, Gore-Tex comes in a white, spongy material. It’s very sturdy and resilient, but it’s also easy to customize for the individual patient. Gore-Tex can also ingratiate itself into the patient’s existing tissue, so it doesn’t run the risk of migrating once it’s been inserted. The material also has a low risk of infection and implant rejection.

Med-Por is less commonly used in plastic surgery today, but it is still sometimes utilized as a chin implant. Med-Por is a porous substance made of polyethylene that can be shaped to specifically match the patient before being inserted. The material is also biocompatible, so it can usually coexist with your body’s natural tissues without causing infection or implant rejection. It also has a low risk of migration, meaning that it will stay in place once it’s been inserted.

Grafts vs. Implants

There are other choices that aren’t listed here, but these are the most common materials found in plastic surgery. Both types of materials have their pros and cons, and most surgeons have their own personal preference on the type they like to use for specific procedures. Some surgeons prefer to use only silicone while others really like using cartilage. Some don’t like using grafts or implants at all, but prefer trying to use dermal fillers. The choice between a graft and an implant really depends on your surgeon, your procedure, and your own body.

Schedule a Patient Consultation

To learn more about the different face and body procedures offered at Weniger Plastic Surgery or to schedule a patient consultation, contact Dr. Fred Weniger at (843) 757-0123. Dr. Weniger can discuss your various options and work with you to develop a comprehensive plan that will give you the best possible results and help you achieve all your plastic surgery goals.