Breast implants. While the procedure subject itself may need no introduction based on its popularity, details past the final outcome are usually unknown to most people. Breast augmentations, like many cosmetic procedures, have their own slew of myths, misconceptions, and social implications. Fortunately, advancements in medical science, equipment, and improved materials have significantly improved the perceived negative aspects derived from breast implants. Most of these negative connotations come from high-profile “botched” jobs (which have their own misconceptions and hardly represent the practice as a whole) or the poor longevity of the first, second, and third generation of implants (roughly from the 1960’s to the 1990’s).
The good news is that breast augmentation is not only considerably safer than in the past, but more so, they have a more natural overall look, feel, and carry than ever before. Today, we’ll highlight the pros and cons of the two major types of breast implant options that we offer here at Weiler Plastic Surgery: saline and silicone.
First, we’ll start with the similarities. All breast implants have a shell made out of an inert polymer called silicone. This comes in two forms, either a smooth or textured outer shell. The smooth shell rolls slightly in the breast pocket, more accurately mimicking natural breast movement, whereas the textured shell encourages soft tissue growth on the surface, keeping the implant more securely in place. The thing to remember is that all implants vary in sizes from depth and width, to fill volume and circumference. Every implant is chosen specifically for the individual, leaving desired outcomes for specific patients to be highly customizable.
For the sake of a side by side comparison, here is a breakdown of each type:
SILICONE BREAST IMPLANTS
Silicone has come a long way in terms of longevity, consistency, safety, and overall the considerably more popular option. Many of the sensationalized “bad boob jobs” from the 90’s were centered around the defectiveness and poor performance of older generations of silicone. Nearly all of those problems have since been rectified. Last year alone, right around 97% of patients opted for silicone over saline. The advantages are numerous, including fewer complications, fewer instances of wrinkling, and a much softer, more natural feel and appearance.
Old silicone generations used gel inside of an outer shell. Now, they come as a single piece made out of a silicone gel matrix. It’s entirely solid, in the sense that gelatine is a soft solid. Because of gelatine like feel and consistency, they are often referred to as “gummy bear” implants. Additionally, while the older generations may have needed a replacement every decade or so, that is no longer true for current implants. Realistically, one could expect the procedure to last their entire life without needing to be replaced.
SALINE BREAST IMPLANTS
Saline originally became popular due to its alternative to defective, older silicone implants of the past. At the time it was safer and more reliable than silicone. This has since changed and is no longer the case.
Saline is a sterile, saltwater solution. If it sounds familiar outside of implants, it’s because it’s commonly used as the main or sole ingredient in IV’s given for hydration/intravenous medicine delivery. Saline is medically safe to our bodies with the main advantage being that if a rupture were to occur, the body would not react negatively nor would it cause any major internal concerns. Saline has the same consistency as water and, as such, the “feel” of it will be determined on the fill. The result is usually a firmer, rounder appearance.
Cons to saline exist, however. Deflation can occur, and when it does, it becomes apparent from the outside. Combined with that, wrinkling and rippling of the shell is more common than with silicone which, especially under softer skin, can be visible from the outside as well.
- Silicone gel matrix
- Prefilled by manufacturer
- Softer, more natural feel
- Less wrinkling and rippling
- Filled by surgeon
- Adjustable size and overfill
- Wrinkling and rippling more common
- Deflation visible
- Recommended replacement every ten years
So, which is right for you? The first thing you may notice after the overall comparison is that silicone seems to have fewer disadvantages over saline and you’d be exactly right. Given how silicone gel can be customized from the manufacturer to fit specific needs, it essentially negates saline’s ability of an adjustable fill line. Silicone’s newest generation is the new standard in breast augmentation – for good reason.
Regardless of the type, breast implants are by no means a “one-size-fits-all’ affair. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages and both can help fit different types of outcomes desired by the particular patient, it’s just that silicone has a significantly higher success and satisfaction rate over saline. Body type, size, and structure all have a play in this as well. The best thing to do is consult a physician or surgeon on which options best fit your body goals.
For more information or questions on breast augmentations, including lifts or reductions, please visit our website or call our offices to schedule a personalized consult.
Hammond, La: (985) 902-7770 Baton Rouge, La: (225) 399-0001