Saline or Silicone Breast Implants?

saline or silicone breast implants

Saline vs. Silicone Breast Implants

The great news is that women have a choice! The bottom line is that women who have had both saline and silicone breast implants say they prefer silicone.

  • What is the difference between saline and silicone breast implants? Silicone breast implants have a more natural feel. For women with a significant amount of breast tissue and who are using the implants as part of a lift procedure, saline implants can be an acceptable option. There is a lot of published data about the research related to silicone implants and breast implant associated risks in general, which is worth the time to review. A main concern with silicone breast implants has been in the case of leakage. Though silicone gel does not seem to cause any health effects, if it leaks into breast tissue, it can cause scar tissue formation and lumps within the breast which can be difficult to remove without disfiguring the breast. The more recent (mid 1990‘s) gel implants are made with a cohesive technology which doesn’t seem to have the same risk of breast tissue infiltration after rupture of the outer shell of the implant.
  • Why were silicone breast implants banned by the FDA? This history of silicone implants is very interesting. In the 1980’s a growing number of women with health problems questioned whether their implants were to blame. Significant damages were awarded in multiple lawsuits with no factual justification. After further data was collected, we have been able to prove that there is no scientific evidence that implants cause harm to your health. The ban on silicone breast implants only, was issued in this country and was repealed several years ago. Now women in this country have access to both silicone and saline breast implants.
  • Are saline breast implants safer than silicone breast implants? There is a lot of published data about the research related to silicone breast implants and breast implant associated risks in general, which is worth the time to review. A main concern with silicone breast implants has been in the case of leakage. Though silicone gel does not seem to cause any health effects if it leaks into breast tissue, it can cause scar tissue formation and lumps within the breast which can be difficult to remove without disfiguring the breast. The more recent (mid 1990‘s) gel implants are made with a cohesive technology which doesn’t seem to have the same risk of breast tissue infiltration after rupture of the outer shell of the implant.
  • Which implants look more natural? Silicone implants may have slightly less rippling. This is folding of the implant on the sides which can be either seen or felt. Ripples tend to be much more visible and palpable when patients stand, and have a tendency to go away when you lay down. Most people agree, silicone implant have a more natural feel. For women with a significant amount of breast tissue and who are using the implants as part of a lift procedure, saline implants can be an acceptable option.
  • Do silicone breast implants need to be replaced? Probably at some point. We don’t really know the answer to this question. The old generation of breast implants did not use the cohesive gel technology. This meant that when the wear and tear on the implant leads to breaks in the silicone rubber shell, the fluid silicone contents can leak. Any experienced breast implant surgeon has taken care of patients who have developed unfortunate lumps in their breast tissue. The lumps are created by scar tissue formation around the silicone as it seeps into the breast tissues. In order to prevent this from happening, we have historically recommended replacement of breast implants before they leak – but we really don’t know how long this is. With the newer cohesive (more solid) silicone filling, we are not sure whether we will continue to see the problem of silicone granulomas (scar lumps).
  • How can I tell if my implant has ruptured? – Any new changes in your breast should raise your suspicion for rupture. Often the ruptured breast implant will become more soft. Sometimes, however, the implant will become hard and calcified due to increased scar around the entire implant. I request all my patients with implants have an annual exam in my office. Clearly all women over 40 require mammograms to monitor for breast cancer. There is no perfect test for implant rupture. MRI is the gold standard, but falsely positive tests can make this an expensive and sometimes not helpful exam. If your breast implant changes significantly, you should check with your breast radiologist and surgeon.

Saline or Silicone Breast Implants Questions?

If you have any questions regarding Saline or Silicone Breast Implants or would like to schedule a consultation, please feel free to contact my office.

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