Saline vs. Silicone: Which breast implant type would you choose?

Woman holding breast implantsWhen considering breast augmentation surgery, a woman has several important decisions to make, including choosing a cosmetic surgeon, the size of the implant, and the type of implant. A recent poll at of almost 500 women who are planning to have breast augmentation surgery revealed that more plan to have silicone implants (58 percent) compared to saline implants (24 percent). Seventeen percent said they were not sure which type of implant they would use.

While the informal poll reveals a preference for silicone, data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons shows that women who had breast augmentation surgery last year were split evenly between silicone and saline. In 2008, saline was used more often (for 53 percent of breast augmentation surgeries) compared with silicone implants (47 percent).

All breast implants are made out of a silicone outer shell; the difference between implants is what they are filled with.

Saline Breast Implants

  • Filled with saline, usually at the time of surgery, which allows for a smaller incision.
  • The size of saline implants can be changed over time because the implants have small valves in which a needle can be inserted to either add or remove the liquid.
  • It is easier to detect ruptures in saline implants compared to silicone, because they deflate making it noticable almost immediately.
  • Less expensive than silicone implants.
  • Available to women 18 and older for breast augmentation.

Silicone Breast Implants

  • Pre-filled with silicone gel.
  • Many women feel that silicone implants look and feel more natural.
  • If a different size implant is desired at a later point, a surgery must be performed to change the implant.
  • Available to women 22 and older for breast augmentation.

Both types of breast implants are approved by the FDA, so they have been thoroughly researched and tested and reviewed by an independent panel of physicians for safety.