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Saline Breast Implants vs Silicone Breast Implants - Whats Right For You

When considering saline, silicone and now the new cohesive gel breast implant, there are many factors to take into consideration. One such factor is choosing between which breast implant is right for you. The following is a comparison between breast implants and the potential advantages and disadvantages of each.

Saline breast implants contain an outer shell of silicone within which the saline solution is placed. The new and improved silicone breast implants have the same outer silicone shell.

In terms of how they look and feel, silicone implants are considered to be a better option compared to saline implants. Many women believe that silicone implants offer a much softer feel and look more like natural breasts, and are less likely to produce rippling, while saline implants tend to feel hard or like bags of water. Saline implants also are more likely to appear wrinkled or rippled, especially among women who have very little breast tissue of their own. Therefore, silicone implants would be a better choice for women who have undergone a mastectomy or for women who are rather thin.

These two types of breast implants also differ in how they are filled. Saline breast implants are filled only after they have been placed inside the breast tissue and can be filled to whatever size breasts the patient is interested in. This is an advantage  since it requires a smaller incision, which will also lessen the chance of any noticeable scarring after the surgery. A further advantage is that doctors can adjust the size of each breast to ensure that they are the same size. Silicone implants are pre-filled before they are implanted and the size cannot be adjusted after they are placed inside.

While both silicone and saline implants have a chance of rupturing, a saline implant deflates after it ruptures. It is relatively harmless if a saline implant ruptures, since saline is only a salt solution and will be absorbed by the body without any problems. This is not the case for silicone implants, as many patients cannot tell when their implant has ruptured. This has been called a silent rupture and in this case, the silicone will either stay inside of the implant, or it may move to another part of the body. For this reason, it is recommended by the Food and Drug Administration that patients with silicone implants have an MRI done within three years of the surgery and then every two years after to check for any signs of rupture.

If cost of the surgery is an issue, patients should be advised that silicone breast implants are usually more costly in comparison to saline implants.

Silicone and saline breast implants also vary depending on the age of the patient. If you are interested in implants for purely cosmetic reasons, you must be at least 22 years old in order to have silicone breast implants. For saline implants, you must be at least 18 years of age. However, if you need reconstructive surgery, you can receive either implant at any age.

Shapes, Sizes Available; Round or Anatomical Breast Implants

Saline breast implants and silicone implants come in a variety of shapes, surface textures, and sizes. Allergan Medical, the makers of Natrelle Breast Implants offer 143 shapes and sizes. Depending on the desired shape you wish to achieve, you and your local plastic surgeon may choose a round or shaped implant. Generally, the larger you want your cup size, the larger the implant the plastic surgeon will consider.

Profiles Range From Moderate to High - You have a Selection

natrelleThree distinct profiles also exist ranging from moderate profile to moderate plus/mid range to high profile. The moderate profile breast implant has a wider diameter with the least forward projection whereas the high profile implant has a narrower base diameter and the most forward projection. The moderate plus/mid range profile has, for most, the best in diameter and projection. Your plastic surgeon will help each patient choose the most appropriate size, shape and profile best suited for that individual patient.

Textured and Smooth Breast Implants - Whats the Difference? Read about advantages and disadvantages.

The surface texture may also vary from smooth to one of a variety of textured or rough surfaces. Textured implants were originally designed to reduce capsular contracture (firmness and hardening of the tissue which heals around the implant). The textured surface allows tissue in-growth which fixes or adheres the breast implant to the surrounding tissues in a steady position. Since the tissues adhere to the breast implant, it is more likely to feel the ripples or waves which are natural in any breast implant. The smooth implant however does not adhere to any tissues and is free to move inside the implant "pocket." With a proper size and the proper creation of the implant "pocket," there is less chance of feeling and seeing the implants and a more natural feel and movement of the breast. Each type of surface seems to have certain possible advantages and disadvantages.

While both silicone and saline breast implants offer their own advantages and disadvantages, it is not a decision that should be made alone. A plastic surgeon can help determine the right type, shape and size recommended, as well as inform the patient about any possible risks or side effects.

Breast implant surgery is an important decision, and should not be taken likely. If you are considering any type of cosmetic surgery there are certain things that you need to know. We recommend discussing your concerns with a local plastic surgeon. Here are several manufacturers of breast implants which include Natrelle, Mentor and Sientra.