In the United States, there are 2 different breast implant materials that are approved by the FDA: saline and silicone. When choosing breast implants, my patients from the Naperville and Oak Brook, IL, areas commonly have a lot of questions about the pros and cons of each type.
Similarities Between Saline and Silicone
Both kinds of breast implants have a lot of similarities. For instance, both come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit your body’s natural proportions, and most breast augmentation patients can achieve beautiful results with either kind.
How Do They Compare?
Beyond that, the right material for you depends on your personal preferences and priorities. Let’s take a look at each variety and its advantages/disadvantages.
- Material: These implants contain a liquid saline solution like saltwater. In the rare case of a rupture, this saline is absorbed harmlessly by the body.
- Incisions: Saline implants are inserted empty and filled once they are in place. This means they need only a very short incision, and patients can choose an incision around the areola, under the breast, or in the armpit. This is also beneficial because I can adjust the volume of the implants once they are in place, accounting for symmetry and providing a natural look.
- Placement: Breast implants can be placed over or under the pectoral muscles. For women with little existing breast tissue, saline implants should usually be placed under the muscle, lessening the risk of rippling and other cosmetic issues where the implant is visible.
- Feel: Saline implants tend to feel less natural than silicone. They usually have a firmer feel.
- Approved for: The FDA has approved saline implants for people age 18 and older in the United States.
- Cost: Saline implants typically cost less than silicone.
- Material: These implants are filled with a soft yet cohesive silicone gel. The latest generation of silicone implants are nicknamed “gummy bear” implants because they hold their shape even if cut in half, like a gummy candy. The gel will not leak out of the implant even in the rare event of a rupture.
- Incisions: These implants are already full when placed in the body, so they may require a larger incision than saline implants. Patients can choose between an incision around the areola, under the breast, or in the armpit.
- Placement: Silicone implants can be placed above or below the muscle, depending on the patient’s body type and desired results.
- Feel: Many patients believe silicone implants feel much more like natural breast tissue, regardless of placement above or below the muscle.
- Approved for: Silicone implants have been approved by the FDA for people age 22 and older.
- Cost: Silicone implants typically cost more than saline.
Sometimes women ask about fat grafting as an alternative to implants, I often achieve the best results by combining the 2 options. Read more in this blog post.
Making the Choice
I hope that this comparison has helped to clarify some of the benefits of each material. The decision is really up to you depending on your breast augmentation goals. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, it’s my job to evaluate your body and listen to each of your priorities to help you determine whether saline or silicone will give you the best possible results.
If you’d like to learn more about breast augmentation, I encourage you to review my online patient photo gallery and contact us for a consultation. If you have any questions, leave us a comment below.