Silicone breast implants consist of a durable silicone shell filled with a pre-determined volume of silicone gel. The properties of the gel can differ between companies and even within their distinct implant product lines, which allows customization of the result. In general, silicone gel implants tend to provide a more natural look and feel compared to saline implants. This is mostly because silicone is a compressible material whereas saline is not. The newer generations of implants are filled with a more cohesive gel that behaves like a “gummy bear,” maintaining its shape and firmness over time.
One aspect to consider with silicone implants is that ruptures can be difficult to detect and are often “silent,” meaning there are no obvious signs or symptoms. If you think you may have an implant rupture, further investigation and treatment options should be discussed. Silicone implants are FDA-approved for breast augmentation in women aged 22 years and older, or in patients of any age who are undergoing breast reconstruction. As of 2020, the FDA recommends screening your breast implants with and MRI or ultrasound beginning 5-6 years after implant placement and every 2-3 years thereafter.
Saline breast implants also have a silicone shell, but they are filled with sterile salt water (saline) solution in the operating room. One advantage of saline implants is that they can be inserted through a smaller incision since the filling occurs after they are positioned in the breast. Unlike silicone, saline is not compressible, and these implants tend to maintain an augmented look.
One advantage of saline implants is that ruptures are easily detected through a complete loss of implant volume. These implants are FDA-approved for breast augmentation in women 18 years and older and in women undergoing breast reconstruction at any age.
Silicone vs Saline: Which is Right for You?
The choice between silicone and saline implants is highly personal and depends on several factors, including your aesthetic goals, lifestyle, age, and body type. Silicone implants tend to offer a more natural feel and are less likely to ripple, making them a popular choice for many women, especially those with thin natural breast tissue. However, saline implants allow for a smaller incision and provide for instant detection in the event of a rupture.