This question is very similar to asking which is better, a nail or a screw? Think of breast implants as a tool to accomplish a task. One may be better than another in certain situations, but they’re both simply means to an end.
Here are the important things to know:
- Both silicone and saline implants are safe. Although silicone implants were removed from the market for several years, multiple studies since then have shown that they are safe to use. In 2006, they were approved by the FDA for use in women age 22 or older.
- Both types of implants have a silicone shell. Silicone implants are then filled with malleable silicone, whereas saline implants are filled with sterile saltwater.
- Both implants have similar risks, including rupture of the implant, formation of scar tissue around the implant (capsular contracture) and infection. If a saline implant ruptures, the saline is reabsorbed and the implant deflates. If a silicone implant ruptures, the silicone stays in place, so further tests such as an ultrasound or MRI may be needed to diagnose the rupture.
- The implants do feel different. I personally think that silicone implants feel softer and a bit more natural, but this is something you should decide for yourself. If you see a plastic surgeon regarding breast augmentation, he or she will have both types of implant available for you to feel.
- Saline implants are placed in the breast empty, then filled with saline after they are in place. Silicone implants are pre-filled. So saline implants are more adjustable in terms of size- they can be filled to any amount within a specified range, whereas the silicone implants come in 25-30 ml increments.
- Silicone implants cost a few hundred dollars more. The cost difference is small enough that it likely will not affect your decision-making process, but it is something to be aware of.
Given the above information, how do you choose a type of implant? If you do not feel strongly one way or another, ask your physician for a recommendation. I tend to use silicone implants more often for augmentation, because they feel very natural. I also use them in bilateral breast reconstruction for the same reason. If there is a significant difference in size between two breasts, or if I am doing a unilateral breast reconstruction, I will recommend saline implants to obtain a better size match.
Do you have any questions about saline or silicone breast implants?