Saline vs. Silicone Breast Implants: How to Choose
Choosing whether to have elective breast surgery is a big decision for most Houston breast augmentation patients, and many are surprised to find how many decisions await them even after they’ve decided to undergo the procedure.
Quite often, the decision of whether to select silicone or saline implants is one of the most difficult, as there are only subjective goals and preferences, no medical requirement, to influence their choice.
Look and Feel
Both silicone and saline implants can give you a natural look, particularly if the implants are placed under the chest muscles, however silicone breast implants have a reputation for providing a more natural feel.
This makes sense, given that silicone implants today are made of a cohesive gel material that more closely mimics the weight and suppleness of natural breast tissue than liquid saline solution.
Patients who are very thin or have little natural breast tissue to cover their implants are often good candidates for silicone gel implants because the implants are softer and less prone to rippling, allowing for a more natural look and feel.
Patients with pronounced asymmetry in the size of their natural breasts may also be good candidates for saline implants, as the volume of saline solution in each implant can be adjusted to even out the breasts.
Saline breast implants are composed of an outer silicone shell and a filling of liquid saline solution. Because the saline solution can be added after the implant shells have been placed in the chest wall, the incisions needed to place saline implants are slightly smaller.
There are also more options as to where incisions can be placed with saline implants. Unlike silicone implants, which can be inserted only through incisions in each breast fold (inframammary incisions) or along each armpit (transaxillary incisions), saline implants can also be inserted through incisions around the border of each areola (periareolar incisions) and even through the belly button (TUBA incision).
Thus, saline implants result in smaller scars (about half an inch smaller) than silicone implants and offer more options for patients in terms of where their breast augmentation scars are located.
In 2006, the FDA ended a 14-year moratorium on silicone breast implants that was instituted because lawmakers felt there was insufficient evidence to rule that the implants were safe.
After years of rigorous testing, the FDA allowed silicone implants to re-enter the market because no scientific data had been produced to link silicone implants to systemic diseases they were previously assumed to cause.
From a scientific standpoint, the safety of silicone implants and saline implants is identical. The only difference between the two from a legal standpoint is that patients must be 22 to have silicone implants, whereas they can be as young as 18 to have saline implants.
Patients who choose either option can rest assured that all FDA approved breast implants are safe and will not directly affect your health and wellness in any way, positively or negatively.
Breast Implant Cost
Breast implant manufacturers charge about $1,000 more for silicone breast implants than saline breast implants, so breast augmentation with silicone implants is slightly more expensive initially.
Also, consider that patients with silicone implants should have an MRI three years after surgery and every two years thereafter, as there is no other way to detect breast cancer or implant ruptures with silicone implants. Saline implants, on the other hand, do not require an MRI to detect cancer and will visibly deflate if they are ruptured.
Due to the cost of periodic MRIs, the cost of maintaining silicone implants can be slightly higher in the long run.
The Bottom Line
It is easy to get overwhelmed evaluating the pros and cons of silicone and saline breast implants, but before you do, remember that you have a guiding light in this process: your plastic surgeon. Dr. Kim is a double board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, and she has helped hundreds of Houston breast enhancement patients choose the best breast implants to meet their unique needs.
Trust Dr. Kim to help you make this important decision, and feel free to ask questions, talk to other breast augmentation patients and look at plenty of breast augmentation before and after photos before you decide on silicone or saline breast implants.