Silicone VS. Saline

Published: April 28, 2020
Category: Breast Augmentation

Gain insight into your breast implant options

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), there are currently over 3.5 million Americans with breast implants. Between the years 2000 to 2018, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) identified a 48% increase in breast augmentation surgeries. In 2018 alone, 313,735 breast enhancement surgeries with implants were performed. There is no denying that breast augmentation is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the United States. Why? Loving the way your breasts look can significantly elevate your level of self-confidence! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently approves two implant options for breast augmentation and enlargement. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between saline and silicone breast implants to better understand what option may be best for you.

*Did you know? Edina Plastic Surgery has special expertise in breast augmentation surgery. Our clinic was selected to participate in the FDA’s clinical trials for silicone breast implants! We currently use only FDA-approved saline and silicone gel implants.

What makes someone pursue breast augmentation surgery?

“There are many reasons why a woman may be interested in enhancing the appearance of her breasts with implants,” explains Dr. Christine Stewart, a Plastic Surgeon with Edina Plastic Surgery. “Some women are born with ribcage or breast size asymmetry and seek to create balance, while others wish to restore lost volume after pregnancy and breastfeeding,” she says. “Most often though, women pursue breast augmentation to realize a fuller, larger breast shape that is in proportion to their frame, improves the fit of clothing, and increases their self-esteem and confidence,” she continues. “I love performing this surgery because the satisfaction rate is extremely high, and patients are so often ecstatic with their results!”

There are currently two types of breast implants available and FDA-approved in the United States; saline-filled implants with a silicone elastomer shell and cohesive silicone gel-filled implants with a silicone elastomer shell. The type of implant that is right for you will depend on your goals, circumstances, and the professional recommendation of your plastic surgeon.

Similarities and differences between saline and silicone implants in the event of a leak or rupture

“Because of the different materials that saline and silicone implants are comprised of, the way we handle a leak or rupture to the implant will also differ,” explains Dr. Stewart. “The FDA currently recommends an MRI 3 years after implantation and every 2 years thereafter to monitor for silent rupture of silicone implants. New high resolution ultrasound is being reviewed as an alternative screening method that is more cost-effective. If a leak occurs, this increases the risk of capsular contracture (a hard shell that can form around the implant causing pain and hardening of the breast).”

Unlike silicone, saline implants require no monitoring.  A leak in a saline implant is easily detectable because the implant totally collapses when it ruptures.  In addition, ruptures are not thought to cause increased risk of capsular contracture with saline implants.

“Both saline and silicone have similar rupture and capsular contracture rates,” says Dr. Stewart.  “Remember, breast implants are medical devices that will eventually wear out.  Longevity of implants has been difficult to quantify but we do know, the older the implant is, the more likely it will need to be replaced,” she continues.  “If you notice any changes to your breasts or your implants, even years after your augmentation, you should contact your plastic surgeon immediately.”

Other considerations in breast enhancement surgery

“Although every patient will have a different aesthetic ideal for the appearance of their breasts, we may find that one type of implant is superior in helping you achieve your goals and matching your lifestyle,” shares Dr. Stewart. “In some cases, your plastic surgeon may recommend complementary or alternative procedures to further enhance your results. These may include breast lift surgery to address excess sagging or drooping of the breasts or nipple reduction for women who especially after nursing have noticed increased nipple size. As an alternative for a woman who wants a subtle increase in breast size, fat transfer can help restore volume to your breasts without the need for an implant,” says Dr. Stewart.

“At Edina Plastic Surgery, we are unique in that we have the Vectra 3-D imaging technology to help patients envision what their breasts will look like after augmentation and “test drive” various sizes and profiles,” adds Dr. Stewart. “Understanding sizing in breast augmentation and choosing a size with your surgeon is one of the most important decisions you will make in your breast augmentation journey, and we believe women should always be an active part of this conversation; we are the experts, but it’s your body. You should be able to feel both saline and silicone implants during your consultation to understand which texture you prefer. Breast augmentation is a very personal decision, and there are risks and benefits to each type of implant. Your surgeon is with you every step of the way to help you make a decision that will achieve the best results!”

Are you interested in enhancing the appearance of your breasts with plastic surgery?  Schedule a consultation with an Edina Plastic Surgery plastic surgeon by calling (612) 688-3168 to schedule a consultation at our clinic in the future!

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