Saline or Silicone Breast Implants – What’s The Difference?

February 21, 2008

What are the differences between saline and silicone breast implants? How about the risks of breast implants? What happens if an implant were to rupture? Get the answers to these questions and more!

If you, like many are considering breast implants, you might think how you should approach choosing between saline-filled and silicone gel implants. Below, Dr. Stile will help you evaluate your options.

What’s Better – Saline or Silicone?

If there was truly an implant that was better than the other, there would only be one implant available. Each implant has pro’s and con’s. Silicone implants feels and looks more natural, ripples less and has a lower risk of rupture. Saline implants look a little less natural and ripples a bit more. The incision it quite smaller with saline in comparison to silicone. If a saline breast implant ruptures, you will know because your breast becomes smaller. If a silicone implant ruptures, it’s difficult to tell because there are typically no signs. An MRI is recommended to determine if the implant is ruptured.

What’s the difference between saline and silicone?

Saline Breast Implants

Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water. When they are first inserted, the implant is empty, and then filled once in place. Saline implants are available to women aged 18 and older for breast augmentation and to women of any age forbreast reconstruction.

Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone Breast Implants Silicone implants are pre-filled with silicone gel. This gel is a thick, sticky fluid that closely resembles the feel of human fat. Most of our patients feel that silicone breast implants look and feel like a more natural breast. Silicone implants are available to women as early 18, but at the discretion of the physician, and for women of any age for breast reconstruction.

What are the risks of Breast Implants?

Both saline and silicone breast implants pose similar risks:

  • Breast Pain
  • Scar tissue that distorts shape of implant (capsular contracture)
  • Infection Implant Leakage / Rupture
  • Changes in nipple and breast sensation – temporary in most cases

Having to correct any of these complications may require additional surgery, either to replace or remove the implant(s).

What happens if an implant ruptures?

If an implant were to rupture, the approach may vary depending whether it’s a saline or silicone implant.

  • Ruptured Saline ImplantA rupture to a saline breast implant occurs, the implant will deflate – causing the deflated breast to change in size and shape. The solution that leaks will be absorbed by your body without posing health risks, but you’ll most likely need surgery to remove the silicone shell. If you’d like, a new implant can likely be implanted at the same time.
  • Ruptured Silicone ImplantIf a silicone implant is ruptured, you may not notice right away – or ever. It’s difficult to tell because silicone tends to remain trapped inside fibrous tissue (capsule) that forms around the implant. This is called a silent rupture.

Silicone gel that leaks isn’t known to cause systemic or long-term health problems – such as connective tissue disease (rheumatoid arthritis), reproductive problems or breast cancer. Regardless, a ruptured silicone breast implant may eventually cause breast pain, or change the contour or shape of the breast. If this rupture would occur, your surgeon will likely recommend removing it surgically.

If an MRI scan detects a rupture in the implant but you have do not have signs or symptoms, it may be up to you and your doctor to weight the options our of keeping the implant intact or removing it.

Is breast implant safety actively monitored?

Both implants, saline and silicone are considering safe for breast augmentation and reconstruction. Research is ongoing in which researchers look for evidence of continued safety and effectiveness of both saline and silicone implants.

What should I consider before breast implant (augmentation) surgery?

If you’re considering breast augmentation, it’s important to understand what it’s going to mean to have breast If you’re considering breast augmentation, it’s important to understand what it’s going to mean to have breast implants. In addition to altering your appearance, remember:

Breast implants will not prevent breast sagging.

To correct sagging breasts, you might consider a breast lift (mammoplasty) in addition to breast augmentation.

Breast implants are not guaranteed for a lifetime.

You know that an implant rupture is a possibility. Additionally, your breasts will continue to age after breast augmentation – and various factors such as weight loss and gain may further change the way your breasts appear. Any of these issues may lead to additional surgical procedures.

You might need routine MRI scans.

The FDA recommends checking up on silicone breasts ever two years, beginning three years are the initial surgery. However, debates continue on the benefit of routine MRI scans due to costs and having potential risk to lead to unnecessary surgery.

Mammograms may be more complicated.

If you’ve had breast implants, routine mammograms may require specialized views.

Breast implants may prevent breast-feeding.

While most women are able to breast-feed after breast augmentation surgery, a small percentage cannot.

What’s the final word breast augmentation surgery consideration?

Based on the patient’s breast anatomy, body type and various other factors, Dr. Stile may recommend one type of implant over the other for optimal, realistic results. The ultimate choice of saline or silicone implants is up to you!


Before and After Photo

*Individual Results May Vary


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Stile Aesthetics serves Las Vegas, NV & Surrounding Areas.