Saline or Silicone Implants?
What to Consider


One of the big choices you will make when deciding to have a breast augmentation is what type of implant to get: saline or silicone. No doubt you have already started your research on this matter, and have probably learned that there is no shortage of opinion on which of these options is best.

What types of implants can I choose from?

Currently, there are FDA approved implants available in saline, cohesive silicone gel, and highly-cohesive form stable silicone gel. Saline implants are FDA approved for women age 18 and above. Silicone cohesive gel implants are approved for women age 22 years and older. More recently, the newer form-stable type of highly cohesive silicone gel implant, popularly known as “gummy bear” implants, offer another option in silicone.

The two main FDA-approved breast implant makers, Allergan and Mentor, have branded their silicone implants for marketing purposes. Allergan has named their silicone gel implants “Natrelle” and their highly cohesive silicone implants “Natrelle 410.” Mentor named their implants “MemoryGel,” and “MemoryShape” for their gummy bear version.

I have used both extensively, prefer Natrelle, yet would feel absolutely confident and comfortable placing either of them in a patient or family member.

What’s the best way to choose my implant type?

When deciding between saline and silicone gel implants, a lot of women base their choice on a friend’s experience or after reading online about other women and their experiences. Although this is a good start, you’ve got to focus on your own individual needs when making such a personal choice. Before you get your mind set on a certain type of implant, consider the following facts and questions about each type of implant:

♦ Silicone and saline implants feel different

Most women say the silicone gel implants feel more like natural breast tissue compared to saline implants. Women who have had both have said lying on their stomach with saline implants feels like lying on two little beach balls while silicone gel implants feel more like part of their body. The new form-stable implants also feel firmer, though women women with adequate breast tissue to pad them are usually okay with this.

♦ Is wrinkling or rippling going to be an issue?

Silicone gel implants wrinkle and ripple less than saline implants. The less breast tissue you have to cover the implant, the more you may notice the rippling, wrinkling, or feel of the implant. If you have a large amount of breast tissue to begin with, this may not be as important of a factor.

♦ Know what happens with possible rupture

Both implant types will eventually rupture, usually around ten years after implantation. Saline implant ruptures are detectable by looking in the mirror and noting the difference between the breasts. The saline that fills the outer shell is the same as IV fluid and harmless to your body. It typically leaks out within 24-36 hours.

Detecting an implant rupture with silicone implants requires monitoring with MRI’s. The FDA recommends that a screening MRI be performed 3 years after augmentation and every 2 years thereafter. It is important to note here, as well, that the current cohesive silicone gel implant is one of the most extensively studied medical devices of our time, and has never been associated with any type of illness.

♦ Do I have significant asymmetry to correct?

Saline implants can be filled to different amounts to help achieve a close symmetry between the two breasts. This will most always be more successful than silicone gel implants can achieve. The main factor, however, is the amount of asymmetry between your breasts to start out with. I have yet to find breasts that are exactly the same from one side to the other. That being said, unless you are noticeably different between sides, silicone gel implants will do an excellent job. If you have dramatic differences between the sides, different size implants, regardless of whether they are saline or silicone gel implants, will likely be used on each side.

The very best way to choose: consult with a breast augmentation specialist

Overall, choosing your implant depends on many factors and you should take the above factors into consideration rather than basing it on someone else’s opinion. Coming in for your thorough consultation, feeling the implants in your hands, and getting a full assessment by Dr. Pancholi will really help you understand what unique circumstances your body presents and what will help you achieve your best result. To schedule a consultation, call or contact us online.