Saline vs. Silicone Implants. Which is the best option for me?
Breast augmentation with implants is one of the most common plastic surgeries in America, with over 300,000 procedures performed each year! The process of looking into breast augmentation can sometimes feel daunting because there are so many options including different implant types, shapes, and sizes to choose from. One of the first decisions patients should consider is if they want saline or silicone implants. This blog post will discuss breast augmentation with implants and then answer the common patient question, “Should I get saline or silicone breast implants?”
Before we dive into the differences between saline and silicone breast implants, let’s cover some basics. The first important step towards any successful procedure is an individual consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Jaime Perez. During this appointment, your plastic surgeon will go over what to expect before, during and after the procedure to ensure all of your questions are answered, as well as perform a thorough medical history and physical exam. Prior to their appointment, Dr. Perez encourages women to look at the patient before and after photos to get an idea of what different implant types and sizes look like. To further help patients choose the right implant option for them, patients can also “try on” different implants underneath clothing at their appointment. These steps ensure that every woman feels comfortable and confident choosing the perfect implant for her with the support and guidance of her board-certified plastic surgeon.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to the procedure itself. During breast augmentation surgery, Dr. Perez begins by creating a “pocket” for the implant. Depending on the patient’s anatomy and goals, a few different incision locations may be used. Many patients opt for an axillary approach where the incision is cleverly hidden in the armpit, leaving no scars behind on the breasts. Other options for scar locations include peri-areolar (around the darker pigmented area that surrounds the nipple), or in the inframammary fold (in the crease beneath the breast where it meets the chest wall). These options will be discussed with the patient during their consultation to find the one that works best for them. Once the breast pocket is created, Dr. Perez inserts and positions the implants. Once the implants are in place, Dr. Perez closes the incisions and the procedure is complete. Typically, breast augmentation surgery takes about 1-2 hours and is performed as an outpatient procedure, so the patient goes home after surgery once they are awake and comfortable. Most patients feel comfortable returning to work in a couple of days, light exercise in two to three weeks, and full exercise in five to six weeks.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of what to expect during breast augmentation, let’s break down the differences between saline and silicone breast implants and discuss who may be better suited for one versus the other. The first key difference is the way the implants are placed. Saline implants are inserted as a plastic shell that is inflated with saline once in position while silicone implants are solid throughout, and are inserted as is. The next key difference is the implant's look and feel. In general, silicone implants have a more natural appearance and texture because they’re composed of solid silicone that is more closely mimics natural breast tissue. Saline implants, on the other hand, often feel a little firmer and may show wrinkling or rippling if the overlying tissues are thin. Therefore, patients who have thinner tissues or who want their results to feel as natural as possible may be better suited for silicone implants. Another difference between saline silicone implants is what happens in case of rupture. If a saline implant ruptures, the saline is released harmlessly into the body and the rupture is usually quickly noticeable as the implant deflates. When a silicone implant ruptures, it can be harder to tell because the implant still keeps its shape so the patient may not notice (called a “silent rupture”).For this reason, the FDA recommends routine monitoring of silicone breast implants with MRI three years after placement, followed by every other year thereafter. In the case of a rupture of either type, surgery is necessary to remove or replace the ruptured implant. Patients who don’t want to undergo regular MRIs, or who would feel more comfortable knowing right away if an implant has ruptured may feel be a better fit for saline implants.
Breast implants are a great option for women looking for a safe and effective way to create a fuller bust line. Women considering implants should take the time to consider all of their options, and start thinking about if saline or silicone implants is the right choice for them. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jaime Perez has years of experience in helping his patients choose the best option for them, and is committed to helping every patient feel confident and beautiful. To view real patient before and after photos, please explore the Gallery of this website.