Summary: Today, there are more options than ever when it comes to breast augmentation. Between the shape, size, incision method, and more, achieving your desired look has never been easier. That said, there is still a healthy discussion happening in the media, with women asking, “Are silicone breast implants better than saline?” As a surgeon, I believe that there is no definitive answer to this question, because the answer depends largely on each woman and her goals. Additionally, age is important, and cost can be a factor for some women, so there really is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question. However, in many cases, silicone breast implants are the preferred choice for breast enhancement, and they look and feel more natural than saline breast implants. Below are some additional benefits silicone breast implants have, as well as some things to consider when debating on your ultimate implant choice.
With advancements in implants over the past decade, silicone breast implants look and feel more natural than in previous, earlier models. For example, one of the implant types I use from Mentor is filled with their proprietary silicone “Memory Gel,” which is a very cohesive type of gel. What this means is that the gel holds the implant together uniformly while retaining a natural give that resembles real breast tissue.
Silicone gel implants are also less fluid-like than saline implants, and therefore tend to look and feel more natural, as well. Saline solution is similar to water in texture, and as a result they do not feel or behave exactly like breast tissue.
When a woman chooses silicone breast implants, the implants come in certain shapes and sizes, as opposed to saline breast implants which have a silicone shell and are filled with saline solution during surgery, leaving the size relatively optional.
The size of the implant can vary greatly with silicone breast implants, helping women to truly customize their appearance. Highly cohesive or “gummy bear” silicone implants generally come in a teardrop shape, so that they mimic the natural slope of the breast. They are manufactured this way because the silicone within them remains in place (like a gummy bear candy) instead of moving around inside the implant like a more fluid silicone gel will do.
Breast augmentation cost is on the minds of many women considering this surgery. Saline breast implants are slightly cheaper than their silicone counterparts. That said, the difference is usually only a few hundred dollars, and probably should not be a deciding factor between the implant types.
All breast implants have a silicone shell, but the difference is that saline implants are filled with saline solution whereas silicone implants are filled with gel. An enormous amount of research and publication has gone into determining if implants containing silicone are safe, and after more than a decade of research, the US FDA approved the use of a new generation of silicone implants in 2006. Silicone implants have been available for almost a decade in the United States with no reported serious health concerns from their use.
One of the most important things to consider when comparing silicone to saline breast implants is actually the surgeon’s skill. The best way to assess this is to talk with several surgeons in consultations and do the proper homework. Ask any and all questions, and also refer to a surgeon’s work by looking at before and after pictures. Looking at before and after photos is a great way to determine whether or not the surgeon understands your vision and goals.