When you decide to get a breast augmentation, you have several decisions to make about your surgery. What size implants do you want? Do you want a more natural look? Do you want over the muscle or under the muscle placement of the implants? One of the most important decisions you make is whether you want saline implants or silicone gel implants. This decision will affect almost every aspect of your surgery, from the size of the incision to the look and feel of your post-operative body to what maintenance (if any) your implants will require through your lifetime.
While both implants have their positives and their drawbacks, our Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Fadi Nukta prefers the saline gel implants. Before we get into the reasons, lets discuss the basic differences between the two types of implants:
Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water, and theyre filled once they are in place in the chest, allowing for a smaller incision and flexibility when it comes to how full you want the implant to be. The outer shell of the implant is made of silicone, and they are FDA approved for women age 18 or over (or for reconstructive surgery for any age). Saline implants have a lower rate of hardening than silicone. If a saline implant ruptures, the body will quickly begin absorbing the harmless salt water, and the patient will soon notice an alteration in the size and shape of the breast.
Saline implants give a firm look and feel to the breast after surgery. They are generally rounder in appearance than natural breasts (and silicone implants), and give more volume to the top portion of the breast. Some patients prefer the more dramatic look, but others feel like the appearance of a saline implant is not as natural as they would prefer.
Silicone implants have the silicone shell but are filled with a silicone gel instead of salt water. The gel closely mimics the look and feel of human fat, of which natural breasts are largely comprised. Women with thinner skin generally find that silicone implants do not give such a rounded, obvious appearance like saline implants can. When a silicone implant leaks or ruptures, the body does not absorb the silicone, so the leak can be difficult to spot. Women with silicone implants should get regular MRIs of the chest to check for leaks.
Silicone implants are FDA approved for women 22 or over.
Why We Prefer Silicone
While a saline implant does allow for a smaller incision, silicone implants have a more natural look and feel when compared to saline. While saline implants can be inserted through a smaller incision, it doesnt make up for the generally unnatural look and feel they have. Nationwide, silicone gel implants are preferred by patients and plastic surgeons. Saline implants have a greater instance of rippling, and current silicone gel implants exhibit lower rates of scar tissue development around them (also known as capsular contracture). Saline is also heavier than silicone, so the chances of the implant bottoming out are greater with a saline implant. The unnatural look of saline implants is especially pronounced in women who are already thin, have narrow chests, or very small breasts to begin with.
Selecting the type of implant you want is a deeply personal decision, and its one your surgeon will help guide you through. If, after exploring all the pros and cons and hearing the reasons why we prefer silicone, you still want to go with a saline implant, your surgeon can work with you. Women who have thick skin and already large breasts might not need to worry about whether their implants feel natural because their breast tissue will overlay the implant. However, thats not the case for the average patients seeking a breast augmentation.
If you are unsatisfied with both saline and silicone implant options, ask your plastic surgeon about breast augmentation with fat grafting. This gives you the option to have unwanted fat liposuctioned out of an unwanted area and injected into your breasts, giving you more volume without the side effects of implants.
If you have any questions about saline or silicone implants, or would like to schedule a free consultation about breast augmentation in Northern Virginia, call our offices at (703) 574-2588.