Silicone v. Saline: Which Implant is Right for You?
A big decision in planning for breast enhancement surgery is to choose between silicone or saline breast implants. There are benefits to both, and you should decide on the implant which will work best for you. The purpose of this information provided is to help you choose the best implant design for your unique lifestyle and body.
Saline Breast Implants
Saline implants consist of a silicone shell which is inserted empty then inflated with a saline solution after proper placement. The position can be either above or below the pectoralis muscle. Saline is a salt water solution which is similar to a natural fluid found in the body.
The surface of the saline implant is either textured or smooth with the implant itself varying in shape, profile, shell thickness, and volume. One advantage of the saline implant is the amount of fluid can be calibrated easily to ensure the best volume and firmness possible after placement.
Advantages of Saline Implants
- Ability to increase or decrease volume after placement
- Silicone shell filled with a salt-water solution which is very close a natural body fluid found in your body
- Ruptures are easier to detect
- Smaller incision required than with silicone
- Cost is less than Silicone Implants
Disadvantages of Saline Implants
- Rippling is more common than with Silicone implants
- Firmer feel than natural breast
- Does not have the natural look or feel of a Silicone implant
Most patients who choose saline implants do so because they believe it is safer, in the rare event of a rupture, because of the harmless saline solution and their ability to provide early detection. The main drawback, however, is they lack the natural feel and look of normal breasts. Also, for patients with little breast tissue, rippling is a concern.
The FDA recommends patients be 18 years or older for Saline Implants.
Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone implants consist of a durable silicone shell filled with a cohesive silicone gel which has the feel of natural breast tissue. These implants are available in round and anatomic (teardrop) shape with textured or smooth surfaces. Most silicone implants are not adjustable, so, the incision used to insert the breast implant is larger than what is necessary for saline implants. Unlike saline implants, the size is permanent and not adjustable.
Some surgeons recommend silicone implants for women with little breast tissue to hide the implant. If the patient has enough breast tissue to cover the implant, the outcome will be comparable with saline or silicone implants. When the patient has little body fat and a small amount of breast tissue, the silicone implants can provide a more natural result. A recommendation will come during a breast augmentation consultation.
Silicone Breast Implant advantages:
- Suitable for any body type
- Less chance of rippling
- Will not leak if ruptured
- Predictable outcome with a set volume amount
- Patients with little breast tissue can still have a natural breast feel and appearance
- Feels much like the natural breast
- A skilled surgeon can place breast implant with Areolar (nipple incision), inframammary (under the breast fold) or trans-axillary (under the armpit)
- Rupture hard to detect without MRI
- Larger incisions necessary
- Higher cost
- Larger implant may eliminate some incision techniques
Many patients choose silicone because it has a more natural feel and look than its saline alternative. MRIs are recommended three years after surgery and every two years afterward to find any possible leaks or ruptures.
The FDA recommends patients should be 22 years or older for Silicone Implants.
Silicone Versus Saline Implants
A major concern with many breast augmentation patients is the risk of rupture. An advantage the saline implant has is it will deflate immediately making the rupture obvious to the patient. Also, with the saline solution very close to a natural body fluid, there is no issue other than aesthetic.
Implants may rupture because of capsular contracture or physical trauma. Capsular contracture is a response of the body’s immune system to foreign objects like breast implants. Because silicone implants are filled with a gel type filling, it is harder to determine when or if a rupture occurs. Therefore, we recommend a periodic MRI to make sure everything is OK with the silicone implant.
Making the Decision
There is a lot to process when deciding on the optimal breast implant for your surgery. The right choice is available when you consider your body type, desired outcome, and who will perform the surgery. At Dreyfuss Plastic Surgery, we take the time to listen to what you want and hear all your concerns. Dr. Dreyfuss will provide his professional recommendation based on his training and vast experience with breast surgery.
To learn more about choosing the right breast implant, contact us to schedule a breast augmentation consultation.