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Silicone vs. Saline: Which Breast Implant Is Right for You?

Plastic Surgery Blog

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Silicone vs. Saline: Which Breast Implant Is Right for You?

One of the most popular plastic surgery operations performed worldwide is breast augmentation. The procedure involves placing an implant behind the breast or the breast muscle. It is ideally performed to change the breast's shape or size. Placing an implant behind the chest is called submuscular placement. Putting it behind the breast is called sub-glandular placement.

When you get breast augmentation, you will usually have two major options—silicone or saline. Silicone and saline are the main implant types available in clinics around the country. However, each of these has other subcategories with different specifications.

Breast Implants

All breast implants have a baseline structure that gives them functionality. They all have a shell created from silicone, an inert polymer. The surface of the shell is either textured or smooth.

If the shell is textured, it stimulates the ingrowth of tissues into their small grooves. It results in much firmer implants that stay in place more stiffly. The implant can move around lightly in the breast pocket if the shell is smooth. The movement that they emulate is like that of natural breasts.

Differences Between Silicone and Saline Implants

  • Silicone

Silicone is an ideal material for implants because there are no known allergies, reactions, or sensitivities to humans. The molecules and particles in a silicone gel stick together, forming a continuous matrix.

Compared to saline implants, silicone is much denser. Because of this feature of the silicone gel, it creates a more natural feel and looks closer to breast tissue. According to the FDA, a woman must be 22 years or older to receive silicone implants.

  • Saline

Any woman over 18 years can qualify for saline breast implants. Unlike silicone implants that come already filled, saline implants are filled when the implant is under the breast. The surgeon first places the shell and then fills it to the intended volume. If the skin over the implant is very thin, you can usually feel the folds of the silicone shell.

Some saline implants can sometimes be adjusted after the procedure. A surgeon can increase or reduce the volume of the saline fluid through a remote injection port. The option of changing the implant post-procedure is common in breast reconstruction procedures. Typically, saline implants are less expensive than silicone ones.

Variants of Silicone and Saline Implants

  • Variable Cohesiveness Silicone Implants

You can have silicone implants that are different in their stiffness, leading to a different feeling in your breasts. Scientists achieved this feature by crosslinking the silicone molecules within the gel.

The dense ones hold their shape longer and are more suitable for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. The less dense ones are softer, and they flow more easily. They are more common in regular breast augmentation.

  • Baffled Saline Implants

Baffling is a term that refers to a unique structure in the implant. The implants are layered within it like a shelf, allowing the fluid to flow in different directions. The dynamic fluid movement within the implant gives it the feel of a silicone implant. However, it has less slushiness and rippling that comes from fluid movement.

For more on which breast implant is right for you, between silicone and saline, visit East Bay Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at our office in Oakland, California. Call (510) 451-6950 to book an appointment today.