What Types of Breast Implants Are Available in the US?

The last I knew, saline breast implants were my only option since silicone breast implants were banned. I did hear of some new type of implant that is being used in some Asian countries, but I'm not sure if it's available here. Does anybody know what options I have for types/materials of breast implants that are FDA approved?

Doctor Answers 85

Silicone Gel or Saline: You decide!

The good news is that silicone implants were recently reintroduced into the US Breast Implant Market after a several year moratorium. Your options now include both saline (saltwater) and gel (silicone) implants. Each implant has its specific advantages and disadvantages. The decision as to which implant is best for you really comes down to what characteristics you are looking for in an implant.

Saline implants:

  • Advantages:
    • Smaller incision size (not prefilled)
    • Easier to adjust for breast asymmetry
    • Less expensive
  • Disadvantages:
    • More chance of rippling
    • Less natural look and feel

Silicone implants:

  • Advantages:
    • More natural look and feel
    • Less chance of rippling
  • Disadvantages:
    • More expensive
    • Larger incision size (prefilled)
    • More difficult to account for breast asymmetry

Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Breast Augmentation implant options

Every implant has a silicone shell to hold in whatever they are made of. They can be filled with saline (salt water) or silicone gel. Saline are available in either a round shape or a teardrop (anatomical) shape.

Silicone impants are available in only a round shape for now. The anatomical (Allergan 410 or Mentor CPG) are filled with a thicker gel and are available only to those surgeons participating in a special investigational study so for now they're considered investigational.  Some say these may be too firm but the jury still isn't out!  It's something to look forward to in the not too distant future!

Best Wishes.

Ricardo A. Meade, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

Saline and silicone available

Currently, saline and silicone cohesive gel implants are approved by the FDA for the general public. 

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 179 reviews

What types of Breast Implants are available in the US?

The three manufacturers of breast implants in the US currently are Mentor, Allergan (Natrelle Breast Implants) and Sientra. All of these manufacturers produce saline, cohesive silicone and form stable shaped breast implants.  There are some differences in the implants, one being the shell of the implant and another being the size. Not one single manufacturer has very size available. 

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

Types of Breast Implants

We use both saline and silicone gel implants.  Silicone gel are by far the most popular in my practice.  There are 3 companies that sell breast implants in the US.  Two of the companies are in the United States, and the third is in Brazil.  Silicone gel implants were always used for breast reconstruction.

Robert E. Zaworski, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Types of Breast Implants

When discussing Breast Implants, there are certain terms to consider:

  • Saline vs. Silicone
  • Moderate Profile vs. Moderate Plus Profile vs. High Profile
  • Smooth vs. Textured
  • Round vs. Anatomic
  • Subpectoral (under the muscle) vs. Subglandular (over the muscle)


Silicone was reintroduced to the public in 2006 after 15 years of rigorous testing, reaffirming their safety.  Silicone feels more like a mature breast than saline, and has been a popular choice since its return. 

Profiles of breast implants have to do with volume distribution. You can take the same amount of fluid and put it in a narrower (less base width) implant, resulting in increased height (or projection). Choosing the right profile often depends on the chest size (circumference) of the patient, as well as their post-augmentation goals. A higer-profile implant will maximize breast projection and minimize width of implant... important for women who desire a noticeable increase in size. 

Round implants are the only shape available in the Unites States currently. 

Placing implants below the muscle (subpectoral) is the most common method employed by Plastic Surgeons. It provides a natural sloping appearance of the upper pole of the breast, while ensuring good coverage of the implant. The "dual-plane" technique is a modification of the subpectoral method.

Call your Plastic Surgeon to discuss these options in greater detail. 

William A. Wallace, MD, FACS
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Both saline and silicone implants are available and FDA approved

Both saline and silicone implants are currently available and FDA approved for breast augmentation in the US.  Saline has been approved for many years and silicone implants were re-released back onto the market in 11/2006.  You must 22 years old or greater to get a silicone implant.  Both types of implants come in a variety of sizes to meet almost every sizing need.  Both also come with either a smooth or textured shell (covering).  Each type of implant has its good points, for example saline implants are less expensive and can be put through a smaller incision, while silicone implants tend to have less rippling and feel more natural.  Both will give an excellant result.  During your consultation with your board certified plastic surgeon be sure to have a full discussion of all options so you can make the best choice for you.

Jeffrey M. Darrow, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 99 reviews

Breast Implants

In the United States , both saline and silicone implants are available for use in primary breast augmentation. They are approved by the FDA. There are restrictions in using silicone implants in young women. They must be over the age of 22 for primary breast augmentation. A recent study highlighted preferences for silicone implants and patient's choosing to undergo primary breast augmentation. This has been my experience as well. Most women like the feel of the silicone implants despite the difficulty with diagnosing problems with leaks or ruptures. The 2 largest breast implant manufacturers are Mentor and Inamed (a division of Allergan). Both have excellent safety profiles and make an good product. Your board certified plastic surgeon should be able to tell you which implant will best fit your needs. Good luck.

Kenneth Bermudez, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Silicone implants FDA-approved for breast enlargement Nov. 2006

Silicone gel and saline implants are both FDA-approved for use in the US, and silicone implants have never been banned from use. The FDA restricted silicone gel implants between 1991 and 2006 until overwhelming scientific evidence showed NO cause and effect relationship between silicone gel and breast cancer or autoimmune illnesses like arthritis, lupus, and others. Saline and silicone implants can be smooth or textured, and round or several kinds of teardrop shape. Since the teardrop implants must be in a certain position to look correct (slope up, roundness down), they must be textured so they will stay in the proper position and not rotate.

Most plastic surgeons prefer round implants since they are teardrop-shaped when upright, and round when reclining, and smooth implants so they can move naturally rather than sit like immobile coconuts on the chest. Other types of implants (like the "gummy bear" implant) are not yet FDA-approved, and are only available by doctors using these implants as part of the FDA approval process--they are not yet available for general use. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Both saline and silicone gel filled implants are available

Since November of 2006, both saline and silicone gel filled implants have been available in the United States for cosmetic surgery.  Both types of implants have pros and cons.  Silicone gel implants tend to feel softer, and have less rippling/wrinkling.  However, these implants are more expensive, and require larger incisions.  Also, the FDA has mandated that patients need to be 22 years of age to be a candidate   Obviously, saline implants can be placed through smaller incisions, and are less expensive.  They do tend to produce rippling more often, and can feel less natural.  There are a number of websites that go into these differences in more detail.  The best resource is a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon with experience performing breast augmentation with both types of implants.

Kelly Gallego, MD, FACS
Yuba City Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.