Saline Breast Implants or Silicone Breast Implants

Posted September 01, 2011 in Breast Augmentation, Home

Silicone Breast Implants

Saline Breast Implants or Silicone Breast Implants? The question is asked every day in my Walnut Creek Plastic Surgery Office, and it is often followed by, “Which is Safe?” The decision to have breast augmentation surgery is a personal one. While both saline breast implants and silicone breast implants are both safe, which is best will depend on you.

Why Choose Silicone Breast Implants?

The main reason women choose silicone gel breast implants is because they feel softer. If you are thin and have small breasts, a breast implant will be more palpable. A silicone breast implant tends to give a softer, less detectable result. A silicone breast implant will move more like breast tissue too. These advantages are less pronounced for larger breasts.

Why Choose Saline Breast Implants?

The main reason my patients choose saline breast implants is because they are afraid of silicone. Saline implants are a bit firmer and can provide some additional projection when this is desired. They can also be placed through smaller incisions, because saline breast implants can be inserted empty, and filled after they are inside. The peace-of-mind that saline breast implants offer comes into play when we discuss breast implant leaks.

What Happens if My Breast Implants Leak?

Both the currently approved saline breast implants and silicone breast implants can leak. If and when the FDA gets around to approving the form-stable, gummi-bear breast implants, board certified plastic surgeons will be able to offer an implant that doesn’t leak. For now, leakage rates are low, but account for about one third of all breast implant revision surgery.

When Saline Breast Implants Leak

When a saline breast implant leaks it is obvious. The implant goes flat, and the volume is lost. No special test is necessary to make the diagnosis. Since saline is water with a little salt added to match your body’s saltiness, it is quickly absorbed and leaves no trace. US breast implant manufactures offer lifetime breast implant warranties, so the breast implant will be supplied without a charge, and if a leak occurs within 10 years of your primary breast augmentation, they will also supply money to help defray the cost of surgery to replace the defective implant.

When Silicone Gel Breast Implants Leak

When a silicone gel breast implants leaks, it may not be so obvious. The silicone is a cohesive gel and does not run like water. This is good in that the capsule around the implant often prevents the gel from migrating; however, it also means that the size of the breast does not change. The FDA has recommended that all patients with silicone breast implants obtain an MRI every other year to look for these silent leaks beginning three years after the initial surgery. If the gel migrates outside the capsule, the body will often form additional scar to wall-off the free gel. This can cause a lump in the breast and may be the first clue that a silicon breast implants has leaked.

So … Saline Breast Implants or Silicone Breast Implants?

There is no “correct” answer. For most patients a good result will be obtained with either saline breast implants or silicone breast implants. Silicone breast implants tend to give a more aesthetic result when the breast tissue is small and when the implant is large. The bigger the breast implant, and the smaller the breast, the more obvious breast augmentation may be. The silicone implants feels and acts more like breast tissue, so it can often provide a superior result in this situation. The advantage is not as pronounced if you have more breast tissue and a smaller breast implant.

While information is available on-line, the best way to get an informed opinion is by visiting a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mele give us a call at (925) 943-6353 or use the contact form in the left column.