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The Difference Between Silicone and Saline Breast Implants

Breast augmentation accounts for about one-sixth of all cosmetic surgeries performed annually in the United States. At more than 300,000 procedures a year, it’s the most commonly chosen aesthetic surgery. Perhaps because of this, the technologies surrounding augmentation continues to evolve.

Today, augmentation implants divide into two major categories: saline and silicone. Each type has its own implantation procedures and advantages.

Yaqub Baraki, MD, at Lansdowne Aesthetic Center, can give you a thorough examination, go over all your options, and help you decide on the best way forward.  

Primary differences between saline and silicone implants

Both types of implants use silicone for the outer shell, so there’s always a silicone component involved. 

Saline implants start as empty silicone sacs that are filled with a sterile saltwater solution after they’re implanted. Silicone implants contain a silicone gel within the outer shell. This gel approximates the feel of normal breast tissue, and many augmentation patients consider silicone implants a more accurate representation of natural breasts.

Women ages 18-22 can only choose saline implants for augmentation. However, silicone may be an option for breast reconstruction surgery for younger patients. These age guidelines are established by the Food and Drug Administration.

Disinformation about silicone implants

Despite the sensationalist reporting about silicone implant ruptures in the latter part of the 20th century, silicone implants —  one of the most studied medical devices in history — have no connection with negative health effects. There are no known human tissue reactions to silicone. Furthermore, there’s no greater risk in choosing one type of implant over the other.

Advantages of saline implants

Perhaps the main advantage of saline implants is their adjustability. The amount of saline in an implant is controllable. Furthermore, since saline implants are usually placed in your body empty, incisions are generally smaller, and there are more options for scar placement. Generally, saline implants have a lower rate of scar tissue formation when compared with silicone implants.

Advantages of silicone implants

For look and feel, silicone implants provide the best results, since the implants more closely feel like natural breast tissue. Silicone implants don’t “ripple,” a phenomenon that sometimes occurs with saline implants during movement, particularly when the implants are close to the surface.

Refinements to implant technology

To counter rippling, some saline sacs are now designed with multiple shells to change the way the saline solution moves within the implant. These shells give saline implants more of a silicone feel. 

The consistency of silicone gel is now available in different degrees of stiffness. Thicker gels can give a more breast-like shape, which is usually a choice for reconstruction rather than augmentation.

Both saline and silicone implants are now available with textured surfaces, which can help prevent the shifting of implants, though they may lead to greater scar tissue formation.

The choice between saline and silicone is only one decision you’ll make about your breast augmentation. Contact Dr. Baraki and his team at Lansdowne Aesthetic Center by phone or online to schedule your free initial consultation. Dr. Baraki will help guide you toward your desired results.

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