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Breast Implants: Silicone vs. Saline

By: Dr. Rebecca Novo, double-board certified Plastic Surgeon

Are you considering breast augmentation with implants for a more proportionate shape? If so, there are some factors you should consider, with one of the most obvious being whether you should choose silicone or saline implants. The answer depends on several factors, which you will review with your plastic surgeon. To learn more about the differences between these two types of breast implants and their pros/cons, read on.


Patient is a 27 year old active female before and two weeks after primary breast augmentation with Style 410 shaped silicone gel implants and placement of EXPAREL®

Saline Implants

Saline implants come as an unfilled silicone shell. Our team will fill them with a sterile saltwater solution (saline) until it has reached the desired size and shape (volume).  We insert saline implants through a small (3-4 cm) inframammary (under the outer bottom fold/crease of the natural breast).

A strong benefit of saline implants is that no additional imaging or surveillance is recommended compared to silicone where MRI or US is advised every three to four years post procedure to evaluate the shell or outer layer to ensure it remains intact. Saline implants also tend to feel slightly lighter in weight compared to silicone implants, and are approximately ¼ the cost of silicone implants (variations between brand and style exist so your surgeon will review your specific costs for implant choice).

Also the benefit of saline is that eventually (on average 10+ years) the implant will deflate/leak and the saline insight will be safely absorbed by your body (our bodies are 60% saline!) It is not considered an emergency or urgent to replace or remove a ruptured saline implant – other than for correction of asymmetry from a deflated implant.


Silicone Implants

Silicone highly cohesive (GummyBear) implants are a great option for women looking to restore or enhance their natural breast size. These silicone-filled shells come in different volumes and can’t be adjusted once placed because of how cohesive the material is that holds them together. Additionally, these types feel very similar to your natural breast tissue.  Silicone gel implants often feel softer and more natural than saline.
Silicone gel implants also have less of a tendency to ripple than saline ones. This is an advantage for thin patients who may not want their cosmetic issue on full display for all the world to see. We insert silicone implants through inframammary incisions to create natural-looking breasts without being noticeable. Our team makes every effort possible to keep incisions as hidden as possible.

Which is Better?

Overall, both saline and silicone breast implants are effective to enhance volume and and shape of breasts. There is no difference between them regarding pain tolerance or healing time, so you’ll have to decide which one works best for you and your personal aesthetic goals.

If you have any questions regarding breast implants or would like to schedule a consultation appointment, contact our team at Dermatology + Plastic Surgery today.

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