Breast Implant Type: Silicone or Saline


Each implant has advantages and disadvantages. First lets consider breakage. Patients are commonly under the impression that they need to change their implants every ten years. This is not true. If the implant is not broken, and the patient is happy with her breasts, there is no need to change the implant.

All implants, just like all mechanical devices known to man, will break. It is generally stated that saline implants have an average life span of ten-fifteen years. This means that some implants will last shorter than 10 years, some much longer than 10 years, and many will need to be replaced somewhere in that 10-15 year range. When a saline implant breaks, either the valve malfunctions, or the shell tears, and the saline leaks out. The body safely absorbs the saline and the breast deflates. Silicone implants also break. The latest studies show a breakage rate of 8% at 10 years. Because the new cohesive gel silicone does not migrate like the old oil implants, a patient may not be aware that the shell has torn. Therefore, it is recommended that a patient have an MRI intermittently to check for implant rupture.

Now lets consider the most important aspect differentiating saline and silicone implants: performance. Implant performance is determined by look and feel. Some implants may have visible ripples. These become more prominent in patients with little breast tissue and in patients who are very thin. Silicone implants tend to have significantly less visible rippling than saline implants. Implants also come in several different profiles, meaning how much they project for a given base diameter. Different profiles produce different looks ranging from very natural to very round. Saline implants allow the surgeon to tailor the look slightly more than silicone implants because the surgeon can overfill the implant to a certain extent. This may be useful for a patient looking for a very round look.

Finally, the patient should consider feel. Silicone implants tend to feel much more natural than saline implants. Yet some patients actually want a firmer feel to their breasts so the advantage really lies in a patient’s desire.

Choosing the implant type is important prior to having your augmentation. Know what you are choosing and why.

Article by
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon