Saline vs. Silicone Implants for Breast Augmentation

April 16, 2023
woman holding silicone implants for breast augmentation

Breast augmentation surgery is a very common procedure that increases breast volume and can improve the shape of your breasts for better symmetry and balance. Several different factors will influence the look and feel of your breasts after augmentation, including how and where the implants are placed and the implant type you choose with your cosmetic surgeon.

Every person’s body and situation are unique, and your doctor will discuss your goals and advise you on this choice. To get ready for that conversation, let’s compare saline vs. silicone implants and discuss the benefits and challenges associated with each option.

Choosing Silicone Breast Implants

woman covers her breasts with silicone implants

Silicone implants have been in use for many years and have improved over time. Silicone is an inert substance often used in medical implants. Silicone breast implants are pre-filled and come in various shapes, sizes, and densities. FDA regulations require that a patient be 22 years old to have this type of breast implant.

The Benefits of Silicone vs. Saline Breast Implants

Silicone implants often produce results that are more like natural breasts in feel, look, and movement. Silicone implants hold their shape well and can change the shape of your breasts more dramatically than liquid saline implants. This type of implant is often used for breast reconstruction surgeries and is also a popular choice for breast augmentation procedures.

The Challenges of Silicone Implants

While silicone gel is considered inert and not likely to cause allergic reactions or health issues, in the case of a ruptured or leaking implant it is not absorbed into the body like saline solution. It is rare for a new silicone implant to leak, but it can happen. Your doctor will advise you on check-ups as your implants age and may recommend replacing older silicone implants with new technology.

Choosing Saline Breast Implants

woman covers her breasts with smooth saline implants

Saline breast implants have a flexible silicone shell and are implanted behind the breast or pectoral muscle and then filled with sterile saline solution. The shells come in various sizes and shapes, which can be fine-tuned as they are filled. The FDA approves saline implants for people over the age of 18.

The Benefits of Saline vs. Silicone Breast Implants

This option is popular with people who have an active lifestyle, engage in contact sports, or are generally concerned about rupture or leaking. Saline is easily absorbed into the body, and a leak is usually obvious with this kind of implant. The more fluid movement of saline implants is also preferable in some situations, and the incision will be smaller because the implant is inserted first and then filled with saline. This technique allows fine-tuning of size to your exact desires.

The Challenges of Saline Implants

In order to feel firm, saline breast implants must be filled full and create a rounder look than silicone. In some cases, this looks or feels less natural, although for other people the ability to customize the size, firmness, and placement to the smallest increment can help balance out existing differences. In the rare cases when a saline implant ruptures, it will flatten out visibly and be obvious to the eye.

How Do You Choose Between Saline and Silicone?

close up of woman holding different types of implants for breast augmentation in doctor office

Comparing saline and silicone implants, studies found no difference in safety, rippling, or nipple displacement in patients who had breast augmentation.1 In most cases these issues were mild and well tolerated. Some patients are more comfortable with one over the other, and your doctor will talk with you about your personal preferences at your initial consultation.

Both types of implants have a similar lifespan in the body and, depending on the kind you choose, they will last 10 to 20 years for most patients. Your aesthetic care provider will need to meet with you to make the best recommendation for your breast implants and find your perfect fit, style, and silhouette.

Working with a board certified cosmetic surgeon that you trust is the best next step to choosing from the available types of breast implants. There is both an art and a science to creating the look and feel that you want and fostering the confidence you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with the Aesthetic Surgery Institute to discuss all your options and make the right choice for your beautiful body.