Women considering breast surgery have a choice of saline or silicone implants
20 November 2017

Breast Augmentation: Saline or Silicone Breast Implants?

What You Should Know About Breast Surgery, Breast Augmentation, and Breast Implants

Not all elective breast surgery is the same. There are many cosmetic surgery options to improve the appearance of breasts, depending on what a woman wants to achieve. There are breast augmentations with saline or silicone implants to increase the size of the breasts, breast lifts to reverse sagging, and breast reductions to remedy symptoms such as back or neck pain.

Breast augmentation continues to remain the most popular of all plastic surgery procedures. To increase the size of the breast, a filler is needed. One option is fat transfer, i.e. the harvesting of fat from the waist or thighs, via liposuction, to be injected into the breasts. But by far the most popular choice among patients worldwide is using saline or silicone breast implants.Studies have shown that both saline and silicone implants are proven to be safe. However, there are some distinct differences between the two kinds of implants.

Saline Breast Implants

Saline implants have been around for many years. They are popular because they are considered to be “safer,” with the reasoning that the solution within the shell of the implant is merely water and would absorbed by the body if a leak or rupture occurred. Saline implants require a smaller incision during surgery since they are not filled with water until after they are inserted. This also means that the surgeon can make minimal size adjustments on the day of the surgery when adding the fluid. Saline implants are typically less expensive than silicone implants, with saline augmentations ranging from $3500-$5000 depending on the specific case.

On the downside, many people agree that saline implants tend to look more “fake” and can have a rippling appearance on the outside wall of the breasts in thinner patients. Another downside to a saline implant is that if there were a rupture and the saline leaked out, the breast would quickly deflate. This causes no harm to the patient but is an inconvenience, since another surgery is the only way to correct the deflation.

Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone implants are just as safe as saline implants despite popular belief. They are also called “gel” or “gummy bear” implants, referring to the consistency of the gel they are filled with. It is cohesive, so if the implant were to become ruptured in some way, the contents would not leak into the body. The shell as well as its content is made from silicone. Silicone helps to form a more natural looking breast than its saline counterpart. They tend to look and feel softer and often cannot be distinguished from breasts without implants. Another advantage over saline is that silicone implants retain their size and shape over a period of many years, whereas saline implants begin to lose volume after about five years.

Silicone implants require a larger incision since they are prefilled for surgery. On average, silicone implants are more expensive than saline implants. A typical breast augmentation with silicone implants costs $4500-$6500 depending on the specific case. 

Which Type of Breast Implant is the Best – Saline or Silicone?

Given the price differences, it might be tempting to base your decision of saline or silicone implants on cost. Bear in mind that he cost difference between these two types of implants is not something a plastic surgeon can control. This is because the silicone implant manufacturer sets the price, and the manufacturing, research and development costs are higher than for saline. Pricing variations for the surgery will also include factors like fees for the surgical facility, prescription medication, anesthesia fees, after surgery care, and the complexity of each particular patient’s care needs. The surgeon’s fee could also vary and can depend on the years of experience, as well as the type of ambulatory surgical facility used for surgery.

Ultimately, whether you choose saline or silicone implants for your breast augmentation is your choice. After initial research, a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon will yield the best information. He or she will discuss goals and options with you, and take measurements to determine size. Many plastic surgeons have a unique sizing system that can help patients determine exactly what look they like best. Your consultation will also be a good opportunity to ask about financing options, and many practices have consultants who can help you apply for a financing plan.

Some plastic surgeons may prefer one type of implant over the other, or may simply have more experience performing one rather the other. Aside from all the other pros and cons, these are factors you should also consider when making the decision. You may want to select your plastic surgery practice based on the surgeon’s experience with the procedure of your choice.