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Silicone or Saline? How to Decide Which Is Best

Posted in Breast, Cosmetic Procedures

Breast augmentation is the number one cosmetic surgery in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (2011). There are many reasons why women opt to get breast implants, with most women citing a common desire of a bigger, fuller look.

When it comes to your own procedure, you’ll be faced with an extremely important decision: saline or silicone? Both implants are safe, reliable and FDA-approved forms of breast augmentation, however there are differences when it comes to cost, look and feel, and health risks. If you are considering breast augmentation, make the best decision for yourself by assessing all these factors.

What is the main difference between silicone and saline breast implants?

First, know the difference between what’s inside each implant. It’s easy to think of the silicone shells like balloons, which can be filled with either saline or silicone:

  • Saline implants are silicone shells filled with sterile saltwater. Saline implants require a small incision where the shell is inserted into the breast area and then they are usually filled once inside.
  • Silicone implants are pre-filled with silicone (thick, sticky synthetic polymers) that closely resembles the feel of human fat. The incision for silicone implants has to be larger because the implant is filled before insertion into the body.

What health risks are there if an implant leaks, breaks or ruptures?

There is always the risk of an implant leaking, breaking or rupturing. Depending on what type of implant you choose, there are different health risks pertaining to either:

  • Saline implants pose almost no safety risk in the event of a leak or breakage, as the saltwater will be simply absorbed by your body. A leak can be quickly noticed since the breast will deflate, however it won’t cause any pain. Additionally, the flattened implant can be easily replaced and filled since they don’t need to be pre-sized and ordered.
  • Silicone implants could cause short-term pain to the breast area in the event of a leak or breakage. Although the silicone will also be absorbed by your body, it is not thought that there are any long-term health risks. The silicone gel tends to leak at a slower rate, so a noticeable difference could take days or months to even notice. Like saline implants, they will need to be replaced in the event of a leak.

Is there a noticeable difference in look and feel between the two types of implants?

One primary concern for most women is how the final outcome will look and feel. Although either implant can help you achieve a bigger, fuller look, there are some differences when it comes to the overarching outcome:

  • Saline implants tend to be more round in shape and don’t usually have as natural a look as silicone implants. Additionally, saline implants have a stiffer feeling and have an increased tendency to create ripples or wrinkles on the skin.
  • Silicone implants tend to look and feel more natural than saline implants due to their less spherical shape and have a lower chance of creating ripples or wrinkles on the skin.

How much do the different implants cost?

Cost typically depends on location, the surgeon and the type of implant. In general, silicone implants are more costly than saline implants.

Silicone and saline offer similar recovery times and are both appropriate choices for a variety of body types and activity levels. Selecting one over the other is based on the preferences and comfort level of the patient. Women must be at least 18 years of age to receive saline implants, and 22 to receive silicone implants.

For further information on breast augmentation procedures, check out our Breast Augmentation Fact Sheet. If you are interested in a consultation for breast augmentation, put your beauty in hands you can trust. Contact Livingston Plastic Surgery at (281) 501-1812 or use our online contact form.