The pros and cons of silicone and saline implants
Some are eager to restore their bodies to their pre-motherhood shapes. Some want to change size or shape to better complement the rest of their bodies. Some are looking to correct an asymmetry or perform a reconstruction after breast cancer.
There are many reasons women undergo breast augmentations, making it the leading cosmetic surgical procedure in the U.S. since 2006. The number of augmentations has soared 37 percent since 2000, with more than 290,000 performed in 2016, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ (ASPS) latest Plastic Surgery Statistics Report.
America’s preference for silicone implants remains firm, with 84 percent of patients opting for the more natural feel of silicone augmentations, the ASPS report stated. But that doesn’t mean saline implants don’t also offer certain benefits, including a lower cost.
There are many factors to consider before choosing which implant is right for you, including your breast anatomy, body type, and goal for the surgery. Read on for a comparison of silicone and saline implants to help you determine which product can help you achieve the best results.
What’s the difference?
Silicone implants are pre-filled with silicone gel, a thick, sticky substance that feels very similar to human fat. As a result, most people agree that silicone implants most closely mimic the look and feel of human breast tissue. Women over the age of 22 may choose silicone implants for breast augmentations, and they can be used by women of any age for breast reconstructions.
Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water. They are inserted partially or fully empty and then filled once they are in place. Some saline implants can even be adjusted after surgery through a remote injection port – a bonus during breast reconstruction because it allows the doctor to fine-tune the final volume over several months. Since saline has the consistency of water, these implants can feel hard because they tend to be over-inflated to reduce “rippling” or “wrinkling.” Saline implants are available to women over the age of 18 for breast augmentation.
Are silicone implants safe?
Silicone implants became the most widely studied medical device in history after they were pulled from the market in 1992 amidst FDA concerns that silicone gel posed health risks if it leaked into the body. Since then, extensive FDA-directed research has found no association between silicone gel implants and long-term or systemic health problems. The FDA approved new silicone implants to enter the market in 2006, and they quickly became the preferred choice for surgeons and patients seeking the most natural results. Silicone implants are also now available in a “gummy” version that holds together better in the event of a rupture.
When do silicone implants offer the most advantage?
Although silicone implants are popular with women of all shapes and sizes, they offer cosmetic advantages to women who are thin or have small or flaccid breasts. Since they closely resemble the shape and feel of human breast tissue, they are a good choice for women with moderate amounts of soft, natural tissue of their own. Their viscous consistency also benefits women with thin skin because they are less likely to develop visible wrinkling.
When do saline implants offer the most advantage?
Women who are heavy or have larger or firmer breasts can take advantage of the lower cost of saline implants, which can feel and look natural in women with generous amounts of their own breast tissue. Since saline implants can be adjusted in size while in the breast, they also provide surgeons greater flexibility in correcting breast asymmetries.
What are the benefits of silicone implants?
Natural look and feel: Silicone implants have a soft, pliable feel that is closer to natural breast tissue. They also tend to mold around the body to give breasts a normal slope, while saline implants tend to look rounder.
Lightweight: Silicone is a lighter-weight material than saline, so these implants have a lesser chance of migrating due to gravity. This is especially a factor to consider for women who want large implants or those who have already noticed a slight drooping before augmentation surgery.
They stay smooth: The cohesiveness of the silicone gel makes it less likely to form wrinkles or ripples than saline implants.
What are the cons?
Larger incisions: Since silicone implants are inserted pre-filled, they result in a larger scar than saline implants. A skilled surgeon will make sure that the scar is well-hidden and fades after some time.
Silent ruptures: Many women don’t realize their silicone implants have ruptured because they don’t cause pain or deflate quickly. Although no adverse health concerns have been linked to ruptured implants, it is advisable to get periodic exams or even MRIs to ensure your implants are intact.
What are the benefits of saline implants?
Smaller incisions: Since saline implants are filled after they are placed in the body, they require a smaller incision, which results in a smaller scar.
Lower cost: If cost is a concern, saline implants are less expensive than silicone implants because they cost less to manufacture.
Leaks are absorbed naturally. If these breast implants rupture, they will simply hydrate you because the concentration of saline matches the saline in your body fluids.
What are the cons?
Ruptures cause them to deflate. Ruptured saline implants quickly deflate, causing one breast to become significantly smaller.
Less desirable cosmetic results. For most women, saline implants do not look or feel as natural as silicone implants. The liquid inside also makes them more prone to rippling or wrinkling.
What happens if they rupture?
The chance of rupture is the same in both types of implants, and both will require surgery to remove the shell. A new implant can be inserted at the same time. It is possible for an MRI to detect a silicone implant rupture that did not present any signs or symptoms. If this happens, it is up to you and your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits of having the implant removed.
Although silicone implants are the most popular choice, there are many factors to consider before choosing the type of implant that is right for your body. A skilled plastic surgeon will help you understand the pros and cons of silicone and saline implants and guide you toward the option that will help you achieve your desired results.
Thomassen Plastic Surgery is the top choice for South Florida patients looking for an award-winning plastic surgeon who provides natural-looking results. Contact us for more information about breast augmentation or the many other procedures we offer.