Silicone or Saline Breast Implants?

Saline breast implants are devices that have an outer shell filled with sterile salt water.  They are FDA approved for 18 years and older. 

Silicone breast implants are devices that have an outer shell filled with silicone gel.  They are FDA approved for women 22 years and older.  They have a slightly more natural feel and look than saline implants.

In addition to saline or silicone breast implants, the FDA has also approved the use of cohesive silicone gel breast implants in the U.S.  Holzapfel + Lied Plastic Surgery offers all three options.

Cohesive gel implants feel softer and more natural than saline implants and, unlike saline implants, they rarely wrinkle. If a cohesive gel implant were to ever rupture, it better maintains both its shape and integrity. Cohesive gel implants come in many models, offering plenty of options to balance the body’s proportions.

How It Works

Breast augmentation is accomplished by inserting an implant behind each breast. This is usually performed under general anesthesia or twilight anesthesia.

The incision for breast augmentation can be made either in the breast fold, around the areola (dark skin around the nipple) or armpit. The incision is usually 1½ inches long and, in time, will become inconspicuous. The implants are placed either directly behind the breast tissue or underneath the chest wall muscle.

The patient will feel soreness for 24 to 72 hours after surgery. The swelling of the breasts will take several weeks to subside. Most patients return to work in a few days.

Women are often able to nurse a baby after breast augmentation.

Side Effects and Risks

It is important that women who have had breast augmentation do monthly self breast exams and follow the guidelines to get mammograms regularly.

Breast augmentation is a relatively low-risk surgery. Some women choose to have ultrasound, mammogram or MRI examinations of their breast after such surgery to detect lumps or to evaluate the implant.

A potential problem associated with breast augmentation is capsular contracture. This occurs when the scar or capsule around the implant begins to tighten. That, in turn, can cause the implant to feel firm. Capsular contracture is often a treatable condition. By choosing to place the implant behind the chest wall muscle, the potential of capsular contracture is greatly reduced.

Occasionally an infection can occur around the implant. This is most often seen the week after surgery, but can, in fact, happen at any time. In some cases, the implant has to be removed and re-inserted at a later time. Infection would be treated with antibiotics.

Nipples may become oversensitive, undersensitive, or in some cases numb as a result of surgery. This is usually a temporary condition and will improve with time. However, permanent numbness of the nipples occur in some patients.

Breast implants can rupture, or leak. The fracturing of the implant can happen as a result of injury or, more commonly, normal compression and movement of the breast over years.