The first question to ask yourself when considering breast implants is: what are the differences between saline vs. silicone implants? Saline and silicone are the two most common types of breast implants used by plastic surgeons during breast augmentation, and both offer unique benefits. Potential breast implant patients should be educated on the benefits and potential downside of saline vs. silicone, as it can allow you to make an informed decision on which kind of breast implant is best for you. Of course, you’ll want an expert plastic surgeon with years of experience performing breast augmentation surgery to weigh in on this significant decision, but an informed patient should certainly work with a surgeon who is board-certified in plastic surgery and who will make the whole process a collaborative experience. Ultimately, knowledge is power, so get a power boost by learning the difference between saline and silicone implants.
What are Saline Breast Implants?
As you might know, saline is salt dissolved in water – saltwater. Saline implants are silicone shells filled with sterile saltwater, inserted into the silicone shell and meant to mimic the feel and appearance of a breast. This procedure allows patients to increase the size and improve the shape of their breasts. These come unfilled from the manufacturer and are filled after they are placed in the pocket created during surgery.
What are Silicone Breast Implants?
Like saline implants, silicone implants also feature a silicone shell. However, the primary difference between the two implants is that silicone breast implants are filled with silicone instead of saline. Silicone is a plastic gel, and many feel that the gel is better able to mimic the feel of natural breast tissue than saline. Silicone implants are filled with this thick and sticky gel prior to surgical insertion. These implants are sometimes referred to as “gummy bear” implants.
Saline vs. Silicone Implants
There are numerous different factors to consider when comparing saline vs. silicone implants. Below are some of the most important differences between the two types of breast implants.
Age of the Patient
For each procedure, whether saline or silicone, the minimum age requirement is different. The Food and Drug Association (FDA) FDA requires that women be at least 18 years old in order to insert saline breast implants. For silicone implants, women have to wait a bit longer, as the minimum is 22 years old.
Cost of Saline vs. Silicone
While costs can vary from surgeon to surgeon based on a variety of different factors, in general, saline implants cost less than silicone implants. However, in order to get a comprehensive understanding of the cost of the procedure, it is best to sit down for a consultation with your plastic surgeon.
Are You Naturally Thin-Chested?
If you are a woman who is naturally thin-chested or has a smaller amount of natural breast tissue, silicone implants may be a better option than saline implants for you. Saline implants can sometimes develop a slight ripple around the edges, but in many cases, the rippling will not be visible. However, in thin-chested women the rippling may become visible through the skin, making silicone a better choice.
Potential Complications of Saline vs. Silicone Implants
In general, many of the complications associated with saline and silicone implants are the same. These include the possibility of breast pain, infection, a temporary change in feeling around the breast or nipple, and the development of scar tissue that can alter the shape of the implant. However, there are a few unique complications to consider when comparing saline vs. silicone implants.
Saline implants offer no risk of silicone leakage. Instead, if saline implants are ruptured they will deflate. While this will negatively affect the shape and size of your breasts, there is no immediate danger since saline can be easily absorbed into the body with no health risks. Conversely, a silicone leak caused by a ruptured silicone implant can in some cases cause breast pain, as well as aesthetic changes such as breast thickening and changes in the shape and size of the breast. However, in the rare case that a silicone implant ruptures, you might not even notice, and a silicone defect can only be observed with imaging studies such as an ultrasound, a mammogram or an MRI.
Additionally, the risk of capsular contraction is higher with silicone implants. Capsular contraction results from your body’s natural immune response but results in a hardening of the implant area and often affects the appearance of the implant. It may also cause discomfort in some patients.
Breast Implant Manufacturers
Many breast implant manufacturers offer both saline and silicone breast implants. For example, MENTOR® is a noted manufacturer of both saline and silicone breast implants. However, there are some companies that offer different branding for saline vs. silicone breast implants. Allergan, a well-known cosmetic manufacturer, branded their saline breast implant as Natrelle®, while their silicone offering is known as Natrelle® Gel. Another branded option is Sientra, which has a silicone implant that is known simply as “Silicone Gel Breast Implants”. Sientra brand implants are only available through board-certified plastic surgeons. Dr. Lapuerta uses Mentor and Sientra brand implants exclusively.
Consult With Your Surgeon on Saline vs. Silicone Implants
This is not a decision you should make alone. During your consultation prior to surgery, you should partner with your plastic surgeon to help determine the best implant for your specific circumstances. This is why it is essential to find a respected plastic surgeon who excels at connecting and communicating with patients, with their best interests in mind.
Saline and Silicone Breast Implants With Dr. Leo Lapuerta
Dr. Leo Lapuerta can help you make an informed decision between saline vs. silicone implants. Dr. Lapuerta has a reputation around Katy, Pearland, and Houston for truly partnering with the patient, listening to their needs and doing everything possible to help them reach their goals. If you live in or near any of these locations in Texas, contact Dr. Lapuerta to request a breast implant consultation today.