Woman holding breast implants

The Difference Between Saline and Silicone Breast Implants

Women who are interested in breast augmentation and do their own research about the procedure will likely learn about the many options that are available to ensure the most natural-looking outcome. One decision to be made is whether to choose saline or silicone breast implants. The silicone versus saline breast implant question is the most frequently asked during the consultation. Researching the pros and cons of each type of implant is wise ahead of your breast augmentation procedure. 

Top Considerations When Choosing Types of Breast Implants

At Schaffer Plastic Surgery, safety is always our top concern for every patient undergoing any type of procedure. Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Schaffer, would never use a breast implant for his operations that does not have an exemplary safety record. While each type of breast implant poses its own inherent risks, both are FDA-approved after undergoing extensive testing that has demonstrated reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness.  

Benefits and Drawbacks of Saline Breast Implants

Tried and true, saline breast implants have been used since the 1960s. Their outer silicone shell is inserted empty and then filled with sterile saltwater. Since the shell is inserted empty, saline implants require a smaller incision than silicone implants. An added benefit of saline implants is their price point, which is slightly less than silicone implants. Saline implants have a slightly higher rate of rippling, usually only felt through the skin, but sometimes visible. Another drawback is that saline can have a firmer feel than silicone implants depending on the amount of breast tissue cover buffering the edges of the implant. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Silicone Breast Implants 

Silicone breast implants are filled with a  silicone gel that feels similar to human tissue. Highly customizable, silicone breast implants come in various sizes and shapes, and their firmness can even be tailored. For these reasons, they tend to look and feel more natural than saline implants. The biggest drawback to silicone breast implants is the potential for “silent” rupture, which refers to a breach of the implant shell that has no outward signs or symptoms. However, silicone breast implant manufacturers recommend an MRI every few years to check for ruptures and ensure implant shell integrity. 

Comparing Risks of Silicone vs. Saline Breast Implants 

It is essential to consider the outcome of what would happen in the unlikely event your breast implant ruptures. When a saline breast implant ruptures, the harmless sterile saltwater is absorbed into the body immediately. Since the saltwater will quickly empty from the silicone encasement, most women know immediately if they have experienced a rupture and can seek medical attention. On the other hand, silicone implants can undergo such slow leaks that a woman may be unaware of the issue for quite some time. Symptoms of a leaky silicone breast implant vary but can include lumps or a misshapen or hard breast, which are symptoms indicative of capsular contracture. Silicone gel implants have a slightly higher capsular contracture rate than saline implants. 

How Dr. Schaffer Helps Women Decide  

The decision between saline versus silicone breast implants is one in which Dr. Schaffer takes an active role. He spends significant time with each patient discussing goals, expectations and describing pros and cons. With an experienced eye for aesthetics, Dr. Schaffer also considers the unique anatomy of each patient and makes expert recommendations on the best  breast implant, ideal anatomic placement and size for the most natural-looking outcome. When you choose Dr. Schaffer, you can rest assured that you are under the care of one of Alabama’s most experienced and acclaimed board-certified plastic surgeons.

Call 205.619.9905 to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Schaffer today to learn more about which type of breast implant would be ideal for you.