Breast Augmentation with Saline or Silicone Implants, Jacksonville Cosmetic Surgery Blog explains differences between saline & silicone implants.


Written by A.H. Nezami, MD, founder of Jacksonville Cosmetic Surgery Center

In our Jacksonville Cosmetic Surgery Center we want all our patients undergoing breast augmentation (augmentation mammaplasty) breast enlargement or breast enhancement with implants to be completely informed of all their options. I spend a lot of time with my patients to explain all the aspects of the breast augmentation procedure that they are considering. An adequate knowledge of the procedure and the differences between saline and silicone implant is necessary in order for the patient to make an informed decision and correct choice for their cosmetic breast augmentation surgery. Breast enlargement is an important decision since they have to live with those breast implants for years.

Although both types of implants are similar in appearance when placed on the table, the saline implants and silicone implants are very different.

The outer shells of saline or silicone implants are made of silicone. The saline implant has an injection port from where the saline solution (sterile salt water solution) is injected by the surgeon during the procedure. The silicone implant is pre-filled by the manufacturer.

Saline and silicone implants are available in different sizes and profiles.  For each size saline breast implant, there is a minimum and maximum fill volume set by the manufacturer. Therefore, the surgeon can go up or down with the volume of the saline, but the volume of silicone breast implant cannot be changed.

After implantation of saline or silicone implants the body forms a scar tissue around the implant (like another cover), this is called “Capsule”.

Both saline and silicone implants will leak at some point during your lifetime and will need to be changed. Saline breast implants can leak from a pinhole tear of the outer shell or from the injection port valve. The saline solution will leak into the capsule and then is absorbed by the body and the fluid is eliminated in the urine. The breast will decrease in volume as the fluid is absorbed and the patient becomes aware of the leakage. The silicone implants that we used before 1985 were made with semi-liquid silicone and they would even leak or “bleed” through the intact outer shell. After 1985, the silicone in the implants was thicker and they were called “low bleed”.

In order to get the FDA approval, today’s silicone gel implants underwent a significant improvement. The new silicone implants are filled with silicone gel in a form of cohesive polymer which holds together uniformly and are called “Memory Gel” by Mentor and “Natrelle Cohesive Gel” by Allergan, the two manufacturers of breast implants. Because of the thickness of this cohesive silicone polymer, the silicone cannot leak through a pinhole tear of the outer shell. The tear must be very large before the silicone can leak out of the shell into the capsule. The body does not absorb silicone gel that leaks into the capsule and the breast volume will not change and the patient is not aware of the rupture. To detect leak of silicone breast implant the FDA recommends an MRI of the breast 3 years after the initial surgery and every two years after that.

The safety of silicon implants have been studied extensively and I recommend that you study these researches if you have any concern. You can also read the “FDA Update on the safety of Silicone Gel -Filled Breast Implants(2011)- Executive Summary”

Breasts that are augmented with silicone implants have a softer feel to touch, and look more natural. There is also less rippling palpable with silicone implants.

The silicone breast implants are more expensive than saline implants.

Our Jacksonville Cosmetic Surgery Center’s patients interested in breast enlargement often ask me which type of implants should they choose. There is no one correct answer. We have samples of both saline and silicone implants in our office. We ask our patients to try them, feel them and I explain the difference between the two implants, after that it is totally a personal choice and preference.  We present the facts, they make the decision.  Only for those patients that are very thin with little breast tissue, I advise them to use silicone breast implants.

Click to read more about breast implant and breast augmentation or to see before and after photos or visit our website www.ahnezami.com.  For any other questions please call our Jacksonville Cosmetic Surgery Center at 904-399 5061.

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