Before undergoing breast augmentation surgery, it is important to choose the consistency of your breast implants wisely. All implants are not created equally and thus serve different aesthetic purposes. For optimal results, patients should weigh the pros and cons of saline and silicone breast implants.
Saline Breast Implants
Saline, a silicone based shell with a saltwater solution filling, is the most common implant used for breast augmentation. Their firmness is often criticized as being too indiscreet, but some women choose them for that very reason.
Saline implants are particularly ideal for women that possess a significant amount of excess breast tissue. Because the implants are filled during the procedure, the volume can be adjusted so that the excess skin smoothly covers the implant, allowing for optimal fullness and shape. This also allows the surgeon to make a smaller incision, resulting in a smaller scar.
Although saline implants are more affordable than silicone implants, saline implants have a few disadvantages such as a less natural or harder feel and increased potential for rippling. The appearance of rippling is most common in women who lack the tissue needed to support the implant.
Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone implants, a shell of flexible silicone filled with a firm gel, mimic the tissue of a real breast. They are ideal for thin or small breasted women with thin, chest skin. Once deemed as unsafe, silicone gel implants were reintroduced to the market with the approval of the FDA in November of 2006. Since then, silicone implants have grown in popularity and remain supported by the FDA as a safe and effective device when used as intended.
Silicone implants provide a more natural look and feel than saline implants. Although silicone implants are more natural looking than saline and less likely to ripple, they still present some disadvantages like the need for a larger incision and a higher cost than saline. Silicone implant leaks are also harder to detect than saline implants, but are highly rare if used as intended.
For patient safety, it is important to understand that breast implants, whether saline or silicone , are not lifetime devices and must be replaced according to manufacturer ‘s guidelines (typically every ten years). Both saline and silicone implants come in a variety of shapes and sizes which you can view and feel during your consultation with your cosmetic or plastic surgeon.