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Breast Implants: Silicone or Saline, which is Better?

Published on June 10th, 2021

As you get further along in your breast augmentation journey, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is deciding between silicone implants and saline implants. The first difference between the two is obviously what’s inside. While their outer shell is made of silicone, saline implants are filled with saline: sterile salt water. Silicone implants are made of a cohesive silicone gel, and are sometimes known as gummy bear breast implants. In fact, long thought of as a type of silicone implant, cohesive silicone gel “gummy bear” implants are actually now what all silicone implants are composed of, as these form-stable breast implants are thicker and more structured than the traditional silicone implants of the past. In other words, all silicone implants are now gummy bear implants.

Saline vs Silicone Breast Implants

When comparing the advantages of a saline vs silicone implant, don’t let rumors influence your decision. Some patients choose saline because they view them as a safer alternative to silicone—even though, after numerous studies by countless organizations and the FDA, there has been nothing found to link to any autoimmune disorders or cancers. Saline vs silicone implants look less natural, as silicone implants tend to feel and look more like natural breasts. Saline implants tend to have ripples along the edges, making them less than ideal for someone who doesn’t have much existing breast tissue, as this rippling will be visible on the side of the breast and in the cleavage.

Another difference: the cohesive silicone gel in silicone implants is unlikely to fold or wrinkle, and it’s not easily distorted by pressure, meaning they hold their shape better than saline implants. This means that unlike saline implants, where the gel will flow with gravity (i.e. standing upright, it flows to the bottom of the shell), the upper pole of a silicone implant remains full even when you’re standing vertically. This also means that many patients typically experience minimal sagging and side-to-side movement after surgery.

Silicone implants also allow for more customization, with textured and smooth implant options. Textured implants have a texture on the outside that make it ideal for breast augmentation revisions or breast lifts, as the texture allows them to stay where they’re placed. They also reduce the rate of capsular contracture: a complication that occurs when the scar tissue that usually forms around your implant to help keep it in place, instead tightens and squeezes the implant, potentially resulting in chronic pain and a distorted breast shape, making the affected breast rise higher on the chest than the other.

How Much More is Silicone vs Saline?

As with most plastic surgery costs, this is not a simple answer. It can vary based on many factors, but typically, saline implants do cost less, which is their main advantage over silicone implants. But considering all the time, effort and money you’re spending to go through breast augmentation surgery, the cost difference is negligible, while the visible differences are significant.

Ultimately, which implant you decide to use is a decision that should be made in consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon.

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