Saline or Silicone?

So I have heard about Saline and Silicone implants.  What are the difference between the two, and are there any other different types of implants?

DianeLee

F, 40, Connecticut

Hi Diane,

I came across your post and did extensive research on breast implants, before deciding on silicone implants myself. Here's everything I know about implants:

There are three main types of breast implants and various textures and shapes you can get. The most common types of breast implants are saline, silicone and gummy bear breast implants, which can be round, smooth and textured.

Saline breast implants are filled with a sterile salt water solution, which is made of a mixture of sodium chloride (aka salt) and sterile water. If the shell of a saline implant ruptures, a women’s breast will be left completely flat, leading to an undesirable aesthetic appearance. On the bright side, saline is not toxic to the body and will be absorbed and naturally expelled by the individual’s body. The FDA mandates that you are at least 18 years old to receive saline breast implants.

Silicone breast implants are filled with a silicone gel, which is an inert synthetic compound. Silicone gel provides for a more natural feeling breast implant. If a silicone implant were to leak, the implant would not collapse, however; should the capsule of the implant rupture, silicone can escape into the soft tissue pocket around the breast implant. Since silicone is not a natural substance that your body produces, many believe it may be toxic to your body, although this is highly debated. Silicone is also extremely viscous and will not travel far if your implant ruptures. Individuals who receive silicone implants are advised to visit their doctor for an MRI or ultrasound every 5-10 years. Silicone implants are FDA approved for breast augmentation in women age 22 or older.

Gummy bear implants, also known as form-stable implants, are able to maintain their shape extremely well, even if the shell of the implant ruptures. The silicone gel of gummy bear implants is more viscous than regular silicone gel. These implants are also more firm but may be less likely to rupture. Gummy bear implants are also shaped differently than regular silicone implants. Rather than being round, they are tapered at the top of the implant and thicker at the bottom. If a gummy bear implant rotates inside the breast pocket, it would look very awkward because of it’s non-uniform shape. Because of this shape, the implant also requires a larger incision to be placed properly.

Your implants may be round, smooth or textured, depending on which one you choose.

Round implants are uniform in size and will not make your breast appear distorted if they were to rotate inside of the breast pocket. Their round, consistent shape also make the breast look fuller than a form-stable implant.

Smooth breast implants are softer than other implants. They are designed to move freely within the breast pocket, allowing for more natural movement. 

Textured breast implants are designed to allow scar tissue to adhere to them, preventing movement inside the breast pocket. Textured implants may also help prevent capsular contracture.

In addition to the breast implants mentioned above, there is a newer implant technology known as the ideal implant, which is made of saline (and offers the safety of saline), but supposedly feels more like a silicone implant.

Depending on the type of implant you choose, the implant will most likely need to be exchanged every 10-20 years. However, it is possible for implants to last a lifetime, but it's not recommended.