Breast Implants: Silicone vs. Saline
One of the first questions that a potential breast augmentation patient from Tampa might ask Dr. George Solomon of the Solomon Cosmetic Center is the difference between breast implants. A patient may understand that some implants are filled with silicone and others are filled with saline solution; but what’s the difference between them?
Silicone fillers have been used for about 50 years. At first, implants used for breast augmentation were filled with silicone oil. Now, they’re filled with the more stable cohesive silicone gel, which has a far lower risk of leaking. The problem with silicone oil leaking from breast implants was that it would migrate to other areas in the body and cause problems. Now, if a shell filled with silicone gel ruptures it may not even be noticed by the woman as it’s caught in the capsule that surrounds the implant itself. If the woman experiences symptoms, they might experience pain in the breast or a noticeable change in the shape of the breast. The shell might need to be removed or replaced.
Women who are 22 years old or older can opt for silicone implants for cosmetic reasons.
Other implants are filled with a salt water solution though they have a silicone shell. These became popular in the 1990s as a substitute for the then controversial silicone filled implants. Since the body can safely absorb salt water even if the implant leaks, saline implants are considered perfectly safe. However, the shell will deflate in case of a leak and may need to be removed surgically. Implants filled with saline solution are often more round and smoother than silicone filled implants. The empty shell of a saline filled implant can be inserted through the umbilicus then filled with saline solution when it’s in place. This reduces scarring. However, saline filled implants only last from seven to 10 years and so have a shorter lifespan than silicone implants. Saline implants can be used by women who are 18 years or older.
Neither implant keeps the breasts from growing or sagging, and since they’re considered cosmetic surgery, health insurance might not pay for them.