200 S. Orange Center Rd. | Orange CT 06477 »

Saline: The Underrated Implant

Basic saline breast implants have been around for more than fifty years, quietly doing a very nice job for women who want breast augmentation.  Yet, all people talk about are “gummy bear” implants, teardrop implants, silicone cohesivity variants, yada, yada, yada.  Poor saline breast implants often don’t even make it into the conversation. The question is, “Why do saline implants get so little respect, so little love?”.

Why don’t most patients choose saline breast implants?

The answer to this question usually lies in a phenomenon called “rippling”.  Rippling is, at a very basic level, movement of saline (salt water) inside the implant, because water has a very low viscosity.  Think of the kind of sloshing you might have in a water balloon.

Rippling can sometimes be noticeable through a woman’s tissues, either by sight or by feel.  This doesn’t seem like something patients would want to deal with, does it? If you hold a silicone implant in one hand and a saline in the other, you would likely identify the silicone implant as the one that looks and feels more “real”.

But, here’s the reality about saline Breast implants versus silicone Breast implants

The implant is not going to be in your hand, but rather covered by your breast tissue and often your muscle as well.  The implant is buried under tissue; sometimes a lot of tissue. So, in the right patient the implant will not be noticeable, and the difference between saline and silicone becomes a moot consideration.

Who is a good candidate for saline Breast implants?

A woman with a fair amount of breast tissue and “padding” on the upper chest and who wants the implant under the muscle is a good candidate for saline implants.  By comparison, an “A-cup” woman with low body fat, or a woman in whom the ribs are visible on the upper chest, would probably be better served with one of the silicone variants.

I have been asked, “Why even bother offering saline implants?”

The advantages of saline breast implants include:

  1. Smaller incisions because the implants are inserted first, then filled with saline.
  2. It is very easy to know when there is a problem with a saline implant because a woman’s body will absorb the (sterile) saline and the implant will deflate. Contrast this with a silicone implant, which is filled with a much thicker material: only an MRI will reliably tell when it is time to replace silicone implants, and MRIs are expensive.
  3. If saline implants need to be replaced, it is typically easier to replace a saline implant than it is to replace a silicone implant.
  4. Saline implants are less expensive. But don’t believe the urban legend that mold grows in a saline implant. That is just nonsense. They cost consumers less only because manufacturing and material costs are lower.

So, the answer to the question, “Which is the better implant, saline or silicone?” is… “It depends”.

A woman with little breast tissue and body fat benefits the most from silicone, but a woman with a lot of tissue does well with either saline or silicone because the implants are buried and not easily felt.

The more tissue a woman has, the less are the advantages of silicone implants, in terms of look and feel. 

How do I decide between saline or silicone?

Be sure to have a thorough conversation with your plastic surgeon about your goals, concerns, expectations and lifestyle.  In this way the pros and cons of the implant types can be weighed for your individual situation and you can pick the right implant for you.  Just don’t dismiss saline without due diligence. In the right patient, it can give spectacular results!

Whether you’re considering breast augmentation or a breast lift with implants, saline might be a great option.

Be sure to visit Dr. Restifo’s breast augmentation photo gallery to see real patient results.

If you’re curious how you might look with breast implants, you can try MENTOR’S breast implant simulator (please note this is not as advanced as the Vectra 3D imaging used at the preoperative appointment but is simply a tool to begin envisioning your transformation).



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Posted in: Breast Augmentation, Breast Implants, Saline or Silicone

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