Saline vs. Silicone Gel Breast Implants
Deciding between saline and silicone breast implants involves some factors you may not have considered. There are pros and cons to each type of implant, and you should also be aware how your own anatomy can affect the results.
An honest conversation with your plastic surgeon can help you understand how the characteristics of different implants interact with your body type. Plastic surgeon Greg Gaines in Gainesville offers expert advice for anyone deciding between silicone breast implants and saline ones. Skilled in all kinds of plastic surgery, he can explain the pros and cons of each breast augmentation treatment.
Understanding how different implants and body types can affect the results is critical in selecting the right implant. For example, thin women with little breast tissue may notice rippling with a saline implant, making a silicone implant a better choice. On the other hand, a woman with ample breast tissue who dislikes the repeated exams recommended to monitor silicone implants may decide saline implants better meet her goals.
Both saline and silicone implants have the same outer silicone shell. Silicone implants are pre-filled with silicone gel, a thick fluid that closely mimics breast tissue. Saline implants contain sterile salt water. They are inserted empty and then filled.
What to Consider
- Natural Look and Feel. Silicone gel is more similar to the consistency of breast tissue than a saline implant, which some describe as feeling more like water balloons. For women with little breast tissue, this may be an important issue. However, newer techniques, such as placing saline implants behind the chest muscle and slightly overfilling it, have improved the feel of saline implants.
- Rippling. Saline implants are more likely to show rippling than silicone gel ones. Rippling is also more pronounced in women with less breast tissue. On the other hand, if a woman has sufficient breast tissue and opts for placement under the chest muscle, rippling can be reduced.
- Incision Size and Location. Saline implants can be inserted via a smaller incision than silicone implants since they are inserted empty. Incision size can be an important factor for women who are prone to scarring.
- Ruptures. When a saline implant ruptures, it is readily apparent. The implant deflates immediately and the water is safely absorbed by the body. In contrast, it is hard to detect a silicone implant rupture because the gel can remain in the pocket of tissue that holds the implant. This is called a “silent rupture.” Women with silicone implants should have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam that detects ruptures three years after surgery and then every two years thereafter.
- Capsular Contracture. This occurs when scar tissue forms around an implant, squeezing it and making the breast hard.Silicone gel-implants have a higher rate of capsular contracture.
Balancing implant characteristics with your goals and anatomy can make deciding on an implant overwhelming at times. The best starting point is an individual consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon. If you are seeking advice, please call our offices for an appointment.