Saline vs. Silicone Breast Implants

Breast implants have become a socially acceptable procedure in our society and is the No. 1 cosmetic procedure performed. More than 1.5 million women worldwide chose to undergo breast augmentation procedures in 2012. There are many reasons why women choose to have breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgeries, including reasons of aesthetics, comfort and even disease-related procedures. In 2010, there were more than 380,000 procedures performed in the United States for breast augmentation and breast reconstruction — nearly half of the procedures involved saline-filled implants while the other half involved silicone gel-filled breast implants.  

In Gainesville, Florida, women who are 18 years and older may elect to receive saline breast implants for breast reconstruction or augmentation. In order to receive silicone gel implants for breast augmentation, the law requires women to be at least 22 years old. However, silicone implants are available to women of any age for breast reconstruction procedures.

Before you decide which type of implant you want to receive, let us at Poser Plastic Surgery Center help you research both kinds and make an informed decision.

Breast Implants: Salive & Silicone

Saline-Filled Breast Implants

Saline breast implants are comprised of a plastic (silicone) shell filled with sterile salt water. The outer shells may be pre-filled or filled during the operation to insert the implant. These implants are usually available in a variety of sizes, and the outer shells can be textured or smooth.

Silicone Gel-Filled Breast Implants

Silicone breast implants have the same plastic outer shell as saline-filled implants, but they are filled with a plastic (silicone) gel. The outer shell may be smooth or textured. Silicone implants are very popular because of the way the gel acts and feels, mimicking natural fat more closely than saline can. This leads to a breast that feels more natural to the touch. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) halted silicone implant procedures in 1992 due to safety concerns, but after extensive research, several silicone implants have been approved since 2006.

Are There Risks Involved with Breast Implants?

Both types of breast implants can present similar risks from the procedure or the implant itself. The most common risks include:

  • Breast Pain: After surgery, your breasts will be sore and tender. Prolonged pain could be a sign of more serious issues.
  • Infection:: The most common symptoms of infection are increased pain, swelling, redness and fever, but it is not necessary that all signs present. Infections are twice as likely for those who undergo breast reconstruction than those who receive breast augmentations.
  • Ruptures or Leakage: Treatment for leaking or ruptured breast implants varies depending on the type of implant. Both instances do not pose serious health risks, but they may cause pain and misshapen breasts.
  • Buildup of Scar Tissue: This can cause the breast tissue or implant to become misshapen, also known as capsular contracture. This happens when scarring of the breast capsule forms tightly, which can put pressure on and squeeze the implant. While the scar can cause the implant to move or harden, which may also cause pain, this risk can be fixed with non-surgical and surgical treatments.
  • Possible Loss of Breast & Nipple Sensation: This is generally a temporary side effect of the procedure, but prolonged symptoms could indicate nerve damage.

How serious is a leaking or ruptured breast implant?

If your silicone breast implants rupture, you may not immediately notice because the silicone becomes trapped in the breast’s fibrous tissue surrounding the implant. Commonly known as a silent rupture, this encased silicone does not cause breast-related health issues such as cancer, disease or arthritis. However, you may experience pain over time and it is likely your breasts will lose or change shape. For these reasons, we often recommend surgical removal of the implant, and you may receive a new implant during the same procedure.

When saline breast implants rupture, you’ll usually notice your breasts sagging, becoming smaller or changing shape. The leaked saline will be absorbed into your body and does not pose a risk to your health. Remember, saline is just sterile salt water. We often recommend surgery to remove the outer shell of deflated saline implants, and we can replace the implant at the time. Implant deflation is the leading reason patients undergo implant revision surgery.

While there are risks to breast augmentation and reconstruction surgeries, Dr. Poser is able and knowledgeable in addressing all risks and possible revisions surgeries that may be required. With more than 30 years of experience in plastic surgery in Gainesville, he can answer any questions or concerns you may have undergoing these procedures. We offer saline vs. silicone implant consultations via phone, email or by appointment.