Saline vs. Silicone: Choosing the Right Type of Breast Implant for Your Augmentation

choosing which breast implant is right for youMost women seeking breast enhancement are aware of the two types of breast implants available: saline and silicone gel. However, deciding between saline or silicone breast implants is often a difficult decision for patients. Many people believe one type of implant is safer than the other or yields a more natural-looking result, but the highly skilled surgeons of Atlanta Plastic Surgery are here to dispel these myths and explain that the “right” type of breast implant depends on the patient’s individual needs.  Both saline and silicone breast implants can produce optimal breast surgery results.

Saline breast implants are made out of a silicone elastomer shell, which is filled with a sterile saline solution either before or during surgery. The ability to fill saline breast implants via a fill tube during surgery allows for a smaller incision and smaller scars. Once the fill tube is removed, the breast implant seals itself. Silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel. Due to uncertain safety of silicone breast implants the FDA took them off the market in 1992, and after 14 years of clinical trials silicone breast implants were declared safe and their suspension was lifted for use in breast augmentation, revision and reconstruction in patients 22 and older. The safety and design of breast implants continue to improve. In fact, a new type of silicone gel breast implant known for its singular shape retention, which plastic surgeons hope will be a solution for breast implant rupture, was approved by the FDA in March 2012.

Besides the different types of breast implants, they also come in different shapes, textures, and sizes. Other than the new high-strength gel breast implants, shaped (teardrop) breast implants are only available in saline. Patients who opt for shaped breast implants must also choose textured implants to keep the contoured implant from rotating and causing an unnatural appearance. Both saline and silicone breast implants are available in a round shape as well as textured and smooth. Breast implant size is measured in cubic centimeters (cc’s), and the number of cc’s a patient chooses can be determined by her desired cup size with the help of an experienced plastic surgeon. Depending on the patient’s surgical goals, the implant can be placed either above or beneath the pectoral muscle.

It’s really not a matter of one type of breast implant being better than the other. For patients 22 years of age and older, it’s all about personal preference. However, patients seeking breast augmentation between the ages of 18-21 are limited to saline breast implants by the FDA, so patients in this age group seeking silicone breast implants may want to postpone their surgery for a few years to avoid breast revision surgery. Breast revision surgery is a secondary breast procedure designed for patients who have experienced complications, have lost or gained weight, or have changed their minds about size or type of their breast implants. During the procedure, the original breast implant is removed and, if desired by the patient, is replaced with a new breast implant that may be a different type, shape, or size.

In addition to breast augmentation and breast revision surgery, many breast cancer patients undergoing mastectomy and breast reconstruction receive breast implants. Choosing the “right” breast implant for breast reconstruction is more complex than choosing an implant for augmentation because there are so many variables to consider like the amount of healthy breast tissue available to hold a breast implant. Patients with very tight skin may require a tissue expander to make room for the breast implant. Our reconstructive surgeons also employ other techniques such as TRAM flap that uses tissue from the abdomen to reconstruct the breast or fat transfer, which involves removing excess fat via liposuction, purifying the fat, and then re-injecting the fat into the patient’s breast to create a softer, more natural appearance.

Whether you’re exploring your breast reconstruction or breast augmentation options or looking for a breast revision surgeon, you can learn more by visiting our website. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about a specific procedure or for help choosing the perfect breast implants for you.