During a consultation for a breast augmentation at our Connecticut plastic surgery practice, one of the points always discussed is whether the patient wants saline or silicone implants. There are advantages and disadvantages to both implants, which are reviewed during the consultation. I leave the final decision up to the patient.
Breast implants can be filled with either saline (sterile salt water) or silicone gel. Some women think that if they get saline implants, they won’t have any silicone in their body, but this is not true because both types of implants have silicone shells that hold either the saline or the silicone gel inside. Both implant types have been proven to be safe and millions of women in the United States have them. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one must be at least 22 years old to get silicone implants. If under 22 years of age, the only option is to have saline implants.
In general, silicone gel implants have a softer and more natural feel than saline implants. In addition, gel implants tend to ripple less, which can be seen in the side and bottom of the breast after augmentation. The newly FDA-approved cohesive gel anatomic implants, also known as “gummy bear” implants, have even less rippling than normal silicone gel implants. Silicone gel implants tend to be used in reconstructive patients who have had a mastectomy and therefore have no breast tissue and only skin covering the implant. In addition, they are usually recommended to thin women with a small amount of breast tissue covering the implant.
Women often ask what happens when either type of implant ruptures. If a woman has a saline implant, she will notice that the one breast will slowly deflate over a period of few days as the saline gets absorbed by the body. With a silicone implant rupture, it often is not even noticed by the patient, because the natural scar or capsule that the body forms around the implant will confine the silicone gel to the same place as the implant. This is called a “silent rupture” and thousands of women likely have ruptured silicone implants and see no difference at all. Sometimes, a woman will notice a slight change in the shape or feel of the breast after a silicone implant rupture or leak. This is often due to an extracapsular leak, where silicone gel gets outside of the capsule around the implant. It is not harmful to have a ruptured silicone implant, although once it is detected on either a breast ultrasound or an MRI, it is recommended to exchange the implants to new ones.
To learn more about breast augmentation and the differences between silicone and saline breasts implants, contact us to schedule a consultation with Board Certified plastic surgeon Dr. Shareef Jandali. Dr. Jandali performs over 100 breast procedures every year. During your consultation, you will be shown actual saline and silicone breast implants, as well as sizers that can be used to help determine your optimal augmentation size. Call 203-374-0310 to set up an appointment. We look forward to seeing you!