Silicone vs Saline Implants: A Surgeon’s Perspective

Plastic Surgeon & Medical Spa Serving Oklahoma City, Edmond,Lawton & Nearby Central Oklahoma

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Posted: November 1, 2013

There are plenty of reasons that women elect to undergo a breast augmentation procedure. The typical candidate for breast augmentation is in her mid-to-late 30s and has had at least one child – and she simply wants to have her breasts look the way they did 10 years or so earlier, before she had children. Most women who seek out breast augmentation have this in common: they want to feel confident and happy in their own skin. 

If you’ve considered breast augmentation, you’ve probably heard a lot of debate about silicone vs. saline implants. You likely remember silicone implants being banned for elective surgery in 1992 after patient complaints of rupturing and resulting health problems; the FDA lifted its ban on silicone in 2006 after determining that the material was “safe and effective” for cosmetic implants. While many women were wary to opt for silicone implants at first – only 19% of breast augmentation patients chose silicone over saline in 2006 – the material has quickly become the preference among cosmetic surgery patients. Last year, 72% of all breast augmentation procedures (totaling over 330,000 procedures) in the U.S. used silicone implants.

At Genesis, we recommend that patients stay within a natural range of augmentation – usually 2 cup sizes is enough to be visibly different and remain low-risk. That said, the material you choose for your implants will significantly affect their appearance and longevity.

Silicone vs Saline Implants: the Facts

Silicone implants are more expensive up front, but tend to yield more natural, successful results.

  • Silicone implants usually run a few hundred dollars more than saline implants.
  • Breasts feel softer, more natural; also appear softer and more natural
  • Silicone does not leak when ruptured; instead, the material breaks apart without extruding from its shell covering. The silicone gel retains its shape – like a gummy bear.
  • Silicone implants come with a lifetime warranty

Saline implants might be a better option for patients younger than 22, but they are generally less natural feeling than silicone.

  • Less expensive option
  • Breasts feel less natural, and implant may harden  or become more visible over time
  • If implant ruptures, the saline leaks out and is naturally absorbed by the body
  • Saline implants come with a 10-year warranty

While patients with saline implants do experience rupturing, studies indicate that only 1% of patients with silicone implants have experienced a ruptured implant.

Very few patients now scoff at the price difference between silicone and saline implants. While it’s usually a few hundred dollars’ discrepancy, the higher quality, more reliable product justifies the extra expense.

At Genesis, we use Sientra silicone implants, and these have the best warranty you can find: if one of your implants ruptures, they’ll provide a free replacement and up to $3,600 in surgical assistance. With saline implants, your warranty lasts just ten years, and you only receive up to $1,200 in assistance.

In the long term, your silicone implants will be much more cost-effective than a pair of saline implants – and as it stands, silicone is a safer option right now.

Educate Yourself before a Consultation

While the staff here at Genesis will give you enough educational material to keep you busy all weekend, it’s important that you do your own research before even scheduling a consultation. Like any surgical procedure, breast augmentation comes with some significant risks.

Having a skilled, experienced surgeon will dramatically reduce your risk, and we encourage you to let us know about any concerns or questions you might have. The best thing you can do for yourself is to insist on working with a doctor with whom you feel comfortable and understood. After all, our goal is to make you feel great about yourself – and you’re the expert on that.