Saline vs Silicone Implants

I perform breast augmentation with both saline and silicone gel implants. Although the
implants differ in material and consistency, both have an outer silicone shell. Saline
implants are made of sterile saltwater solution and are filled at the time of surgery, while
silicone implants consist of viscous silicone material and come pre-filled. The question
then comes up “Which one is best for me”?

One of the most common misconceptions in plastic surgery is that saline implants
are safe and silicone implants are not. This stems back to the earlier days of breast
augmentation (up to and including the early 1990’s) when the implants were filled with
liquid silicone that had a “honey-like” consistency. These were the implants that were
linked (although never proven) to certain autoimmune diseases and complications. The
media had a field day blaming implants for everything from arthritis to psychiatric
illnesses. The new silicone implants that were FDA approved in 2006 are made of a
thicker jelly-like material that mimics the feel of natural breast tissue and are tested, tried,
and true for safety.

In my experience, silicone implants feel more natural and tend to ripple (show waves)
less than saline implants. However, women with thin skin can get rippling with both
silicone and saline implants, and perhaps the most important factor is placing the implant
under the muscle. Another major difference is that if there is a leak or rupture of the
breast implant, it is usually easier to notice with a saline implant which eventually goes
flat as the saline is absorbed. Leaks or ruptures in the silicone implants can take longer
to recognize and are often noted by a subtle change in breast shape. They are often
diagnosed with an MRI.

The bottom line is that if patients ask me which implant I would recommend, all things
being equal, I would have to say silicone with the overwhelming majority placed under
the pectoralis muscle. If patients have reservations about silicone, I would use saline,
also placed under the muscle.

Whether you desire implants to enlarge your naturally underdeveloped shape, to balance
out an asymmetrical appearance, or to reconstruct your breasts following disease
recovery, I look forward to meeting with you to address your concerns. Please feel free to
call (212) 737-9090 to schedule a consultation.