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Silicone vs. Saline Breast Implants: Which Is Right For Me?


Deciding to get a breast augmentation can be a big decision. Choosing whether a cosmetic procedure is suitable for you requires a lot of research and thought. Once you decide you want breast implants to enhance the size of your breasts, you may feel eager to jump right into getting the procedure. However, before officially increasing your breast size with augmentation surgery, you should take a few key steps.

If you’ve researched thoroughly, you’re likely aware of the two implant options available: silicone and saline. The debate on which is better varies from patient to patient and surgeon to surgeon, but it all depends on your desired outcome.

What Are Saline Implants?

The first saline implant was developed in 1964 by the French company Laboratoires Arion, according to an article in the National Library of Medicine. The silicone shell of saline implants is inserted through a tiny incision and filled with sterile salt water. The incision site is so small that some women opt for saline implants, having the least visible scarring. Some choose saline implants because they are less expensive than silicone.

Saline implants have a firm and round look that, when overfilled, can achieve a firmer and fuller appearance. Saline implants may be noticeable as rippling or wrinkling when placed underneath very thin skin, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

What Are Silicone Implants?

Dr. Thomas Cronin and Dr. Frank Gerow developed and invented the first silicone breast implant in 1961, and the first breast augmentation with silicone implants was in 1962. Silicone implants have a silicone outer shell filled with silicone gel. This synthetic material feels similar to human fat, so many people feel that silicone implants feel more natural in their breast pockets.

Silicone implants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. “Gummy bear” implants are a popular type that feels firmer, softer, and holds their shape better than other silicone implants. Gummy bear implants are less likely to rupture due to their strength and maintain their shape better even if they rupture because the gel inside them is thicker than traditional silicone implants.

Silicone implants are highly pliable and have more similarities with natural breast tissue, from how they sit to their curvature. 

While silicone implants have a lower risk of rupturing than saline implants, they pose a more significant risk if it does happen. Silicone implant rupture can lead to further complications, while saline implant rupture has an isotonic saline solution that is eventually naturally and safely absorbed by the body.

Most people believe silicone implants have a more natural look and feel than saline implants and are the most popular choice among patients and doctors in the United States.

We typically recommend silicone implants to women with thin skin, a low body fat percentage, or a small amount of natural breast tissue so they will feel and appear more natural than saline implants.

As silicone implants weigh less than saline implants, they are less likely to move from their original position over time, promoting longer-lasting results that appear natural and, for many, feel almost as normal as having no implants.

Choosing The Right Breast Implant

The main factors Dr. David Liland in Dallas looks at when recommending which implant type is right for his patients include:

  • Age
  • Weight/height
  • Body type/frame
  • Desired outcome 
  • Current breast size/natural amount of breast tissue
  • Lifestyle
  • Personal preferences

Pros And Cons Of Silicone vs. Saline Implants

As with most things, both silicone and saline implants have their lists of pros and cons. It is up to you and your doctor to weigh up each and decide which will help you achieve your goals and leave you happy and comfortable with your results.

Pros of silicone implants include:

  • More natural look and feel for most women
  • Less likely to show implant rippling in women with low body fat than in saline
  • Less likely to move around over time than saline
  • Are less likely to rupture or pop than saline

Cons of silicone implants include:

  • If they rupture, they pose more risks than saline
  • Typically more expensive
  • Larger incisions than saline

Pros of saline implants include:

  • Smaller incision site than silicone
  • More affordable than silicone
  • The saline solution can be absorbed safely by the body if the implants rupture

Cons of saline implants include:

  • Easily seen under the skin for patients with thin skin and low body fat
  • They feel less like natural breast tissue than silicone

Factors To Look At When Choosing Breast Implants

Saline vs. silicone is not the only factor to consider with your plastic surgeon about your most suitable implant. When choosing your perfect implant, you and your surgeon will look at other details that may include:

Implant size – How many CCs are right for you? 

Implant texture – Will you be getting smooth or textured implants?

Implant shape – Will you be getting teardrop or round implants?

Implant placement – Will your implants be placed over or under the muscle?

Implant projection – How far do you want your breasts to project outwards?

How Old Do You Need To Be To Get Breast Implants?

Silicone implants may be the obvious choice to many, but younger patients wanting to enhance their breasts don’t necessarily have the luxury of choosing. The approved minimum age for silicone implants is 22 years, while saline implants have approval for patients 18 or older. For this reason, many young women choose saline for their first set of implants and have them replaced with silicone later in life.

Which Type Of Implants Are Best With A Breast Lift?

Combining breast implants with a mastopexy is a great way to get the most out of your breast enhancement surgery. If you plan on having your breast augmentation with a breast lift to add volume and lift drooping skin, there are a few factors to consider when determining whether silicone or saline is a better option.

While saline implants allow you to keep scarring to a minimum as it is placed through a small incision and filled after placement, they don’t have as much of a natural feel as silicone implants.

Silicone implants may require a larger incision than silicone implants, but once placed, these implants feel and appear more natural and have fewer risks of complications such as rippling or popping.

Both saline and silicone implants have their advantages and disadvantages, and we recommend looking closely at the pros and cons of each with your preferences in mind when choosing which is best for you.

Meeting with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss your goals and options and to have your breasts professionally assessed can help you make an educated and confident decision. If you’re in Dallas considering breast augmentation, request a consultation with Dr. David Liland, renowned for delivering dream breast results for hundreds of women throughout Texas and beyond.