The Pros and Cons of Silicone Breast Implants
By Kenneth Smart Jr. on May 28, 2014
Knowing the differences between the various types of breast implants available is an important step in your breast augmentation. After all, everyone has different goals for surgery as well as varying body types, requiring implants that are the right size, shape, projection, position, and material. One of the foremost factors in implant type is whether the implant is filled with saline solution or silicone gel. Each filling material can provide numerous benefits to the patient, in exchange for certain drawbacks when compared to the other. Before undergoing a breast augmentation at our Dallas plastic surgery clinic, we want you to investigate all of your options. By understanding the pros and cons of silicone implants, you can decide whether such implants will be an asset to the overall results and satisfaction of your procedure.
The Difference between Silicone and Saline
Silicone and saline are the two materials that can be used to fill the shells of breast implants. They are both approved and deemed safe by the FDA, and many women have benefited from the use of both filler types. However, the physical properties of each material are notably different, giving women slightly different results and advantages.
Saline solution is essentially water and sodium, giving implants a consistency and texture that is slightly different than that of natural fat, but also providing medical advantages. Saline implants can also be filled after insertion, making them especially useful during the surgery itself. Silicone, on the other hand, is a synthetic gel that more closely resembles the consistency of breast tissue, often making it a superior aesthetic choice. For a more specific delineation of silicone’s advantages and disadvantages, refer to the following points.
The Pros of Silicone Implants
Silicone is generally considered the better option when it comes to appearance, making it initially appealing for many patients. By using silicone-filled implants, women can gain the following benefits to their breast augmentation:
- Better shape: Silicone gel is better able to mimic the shape and feel of body fat, resulting in breasts that look more natural. This is further aided by teardrop shaped implants, which can only be made from the cohesive properties of silicone gel.
- Better texture: Saline implants have a tendency to be too firm, particularly when filled to full volume or with large upgrades to breast size. Silicone implants have more “give,” like regular breast tissue and body fat.
- Subtle enhancement: When breasts appear too round or “fake” after augmentation, it’s usually due to saline implants. Silicone is better at enhancing breast size without altering other visual qualities of the breasts. This difference is especially important in patients with smaller breasts or those undergoing a significant upgrade in size.
For most patients, silicone implants offer an augmentation that is cosmetically superior, although the extent of these benefits will vary from person to person. Speak with your doctor to gain a more accurate expectation of what you will gain from using silicone.
The Cons of Silicone Implants
In exchange for silicone’s appearance and texture, patients may experience certain disadvantages from surgery or greater risks of post-surgical complication:
- Increased scarring: Because silicone implants are pre-filled, a larger incision must be utilized to insert them, thus resulting in more visible scars. This also limits the types of incisions that can be used, with many patients limited to the standard inframammary incision under the breast.
- Risk of capsular contracture: Silicone implants have a slightly higher rate of capsular contracture, resulting in more patients who require revision surgery. This rate is further increased by the use of teardrop shaped implants, due to the shell’s texture.
- Risk of silent rupture: When saline implants rupture, the effects are seen almost immediately and patients can seek treatment. Silicone ruptures are much more subtle, often leaving women unaware until they take proactive measures to identify a rupture. Women with silicone implants are therefore advised to undergo an MRI scan every other year to detect silent ruptures.
- Silicone gel after rupture: Silicone gel does not get absorbed into the body as saline does. When a rupture occurs and is not immediately noticed, pieces of silicone may travel to other areas of the body, which requires surgical intervention in order to correct.
Make the Right Decision for Your Body
The general benefits of saline vs. silicone are easily explained, but only through an in-depth conversation with your plastic surgeon will you be able to identify which pros and cons are most applicable to you and your body. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Ken Smart to discuss your breast augmentation and the choices available to you.
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“I opted for the breast augmentation with lift along with a tummy tuck and now I look better than I did in high school!” T.C.