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Saline Versus Silicone Implants: Which is Better?

When it comes to Breast Augmentation, patients often ask: “Which is better, saline or silicone implants?”

The answer is, it depends.  It depends a lot on how much breast tissue you have. In general, the less tissue you have, the more you “need” silicone as opposed to saline.

What’s the Structural Difference between Saline and Silicone Implants?

Implants are named according to what fills them. Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water while silicone implants are filled with silicone gel.

Regardless of what breast implants are filled with, they all have a solid silicone shell.  The FDA has approved saline implants for women 18 years old and over, and silicone for women 22 years old and over.

What Determines the Difference Between How Saline and Silicone Implants Look and Feel on an Individual?

The difference between how silicone and saline implants look and feel depends greatly on the amount of breast tissue that a woman has to cover the implant.  If you hold a silicone implant in your hand, it feels more “real”. But once the implant is covered with breast tissue, the less one feels the implant. For women with a generous amount of breast tissue, even saline implants can feel pretty natural, and therefore the advantage of silicone is less. So a woman with a lot of breast tissue does well with either silicone or saline, because the implant is buried and not easily felt. Comparatively, women with little breast tissue benefit the most from silicone.

While more women choose silicone over saline, below are some important considerations:

Advantages of Saline Implants

  • Lower cost: Saline implants cost less for manufacturers to make, and that savings is reflected in the bottom line cost for patients.
  • You’ll know right away if your implant ruptures. Unlike silicone implants which might tear without detection, if your saline implant tears, you’ll know immediately because you’ll see the change (deflation) in your breast. Additionally, the concentration of saline in saline implants matches the concentration of saline in your body fluids, so if a rupture occurs, it poses no health problem and you can address it immediately.
  • Shorter scar: Since saline implants are deflated when they are placed, they typically (but not always) require a smaller incision, and consequently a shorter scar. The difference might be negligible, depending on the size of implant you want, but this is something you should talk to your surgeon about.
  • Lower Risk of Capsular Contracture: Capsular contracture is when scar tissue forms around breast implants and causes the breasts to harden, to look and feel different, and cause discomfort. The risk of capsular contracture with saline is lower than that for silicone implants. However, there are more important variables (such as placement of the implants under the muscle, which minimizes capsular contracture) that contribute to how a woman’s body responds to implants, so it’s important to talk to your surgeon about any concerns you have.

Disadvantages of Saline Implants

  • You may not achieve the natural look and feel you want, particularly if there’s little breast tissue to cover the implant.

Advantages of Silicone

  • Look and feel more natural than saline in many women.

Disadvantages of Silicone Implants

  • Higher price tag than saline
  • May require a longer incision thereby creating a longer scar, depending on the implant size (though patients should talk to their surgeon before making assumptions)
  • They may rupture without your knowledge
  • There’s a higher risk of capsular contracture; consequently the FDA recommends MRI scans for women with silicone implants every two to three years.

How To Decide Between Saline and Silicone Implants

An experienced plastic surgeon can explore your aesthetic goals with you and examine your breast tissue. In this way you can be confident that you are choosing the right implant for your particular circumstances.

Envision How You Will Look With Vectra 3-D Imaging

Now you can envision how you’d look with different types of implants.  The Vectra 3-D system uses photos of your image and allows for the complete customization of a procedure so you can choose the implant brand, fill, profile, shape, shell, volume and placement, and save the images with the Sculptor software so that the exact same choices are used during the actual procedure.

If you have more questions check out FAQs About Breast Augmentation or Contact Marie directly.

To schedule your consultation with Dr. Restifo, please call 203.772.1444.

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Posted in: Breast Implants

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