Silicone vs. Saline Breast Implants
Which breast implant is best for me, saline or silicone?
Patients often ask me whether they should choose silicone breast implants or saline implants. There is not a single “correct” answer, since every woman has different anatomy and preferences. The main difference between the two is that silicone implants are softer, while saline implants are firmer. This difference can be especially noticeable for thin patients with little breast tissue, since they will have less coverage or “padding” over the implants, which will therefore be easier to see and feel.
Silicone implants can often look and feel more “natural” than saline implants. Since a silicone implant is pre-filled, a slightly larger incision is needed to insert a silicone implant than a saline implant, which can be inserted partially filled. A woman with small areolas (the dark skin around the nipple) may not be able to receive silicone implants through an incision around the areola, and instead may require an incision in the crease under the breasts. There have been questions in the past regarding possible effects of silicone if it leaks. For this reason, silicone implants were available only to women who met certain criteria, and who were enrolled in the large silicone implant studies, until Fall, 2006. After years of extensive testing, including evaluation of the many women who received silicone implants as part of the study, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now allows any woman 22 or over to receive silicone implants. I sometimes use silicone implants in appropriate patients under 22 if silicone is clearly the best option. The FDA also recommended that women undergo an MRI examination of the breasts 3 years after receiving silicone implants, then every other year thereafter. Silicone implants are more expensive than saline.
In my practice, I use silicone implants slightly more often than saline implants. I can obtain very natural and beautiful results with saline implants too in most patients. Many of my patients prefer the firmer look and feel of the saline implants, which may result in a more “youthful” outcome. Most patients choose the peri-areolar incision, which generally is very inconspicuous (more on incisions for breast enhancement in another article). If a saline implant leaks, there are no concerns regarding a foreign substance in the body, since the implants contain only salt water. Saline implants may also be more helpful than silicone to counteract mild drooping or shape abnormalities of the breasts.
During your consultation with me, I will help you to decide which implant type will be best for you. There are a number of other decisions to make as well, including the shape or “profile” of the implants, the incision to use, the size, and others. I will guide you through the entire process, so that you will feel comfortable with your choices, and very happy with your results.