When considering breast augmentation or breast augmentation with a breast lift, one of the biggest decisions women have to make is choosing between silicone or saline implants. There are pros and cons to each type of implant depending on your goals and your body type. The good news is that both implants are safe and provide a nice result.

So let’s start with the obvious – the main difference between the two implants is the substance inside the implant. While both are made with a solid silicone outer shell, saline implants are filled with saline from an IV bag, and silicone implants are filled with a semi-solid cohesive silicone gel. Because silicone is a thicker substance than saline, they tend to feel more natural than saline implants.

Now let’s run down the pros and cons:

The benefits of saline implants include lower cost, a smaller incision for insertion and easier leak detection.  When a saline implant leaks, the fluid is absorbed by the body and the breast deflates, something that is fairly easy to see.  Drawbacks to saline implants include a less natural feel than silicone, and a tendency for rippling of the implant shell which can be felt and sometimes even seen in thinner women with little breast tissue. In women with thicker skin and moderate amounts of breast tissue, saline implants can feel soft and natural, and can be a great option. The leak rate for saline implants is about 7% over the first 10 years, then increases, but saline implants don’t need to be replaced until they leak.

The advantages of silicone implants include feeling softer and more like natural breast tissue than saline.  They have less rippling, which makes them a better choice for thinner women with very little breast tissue, and in comparison studies they tend to have lower leakage rates than saline.  The drawbacks to silicone implants are that they cost a little more than saline and need a longer incision for insertion since they are pre-filled. In addition, if the implant leaks, the silicone gel is not absorbed by the body so there is no volume change to the breast, which makes it more difficult to detect a leaking implant.

The best news is that you have so many augmentation options, these days.  Choosing the type of implant is truly a personal choice, and after discussing the pros and cons of each, I ultimately allow the patient to pick which implant suits them the best…it’s matter of choice.

-Dr. G.