One of the first things that any breast augmentation patient will consider is the question of choosing silicone or saline implants.

Both types of implants have been used in breast augmentations for decades, beginning in the late 1960s. Silicone was originally used from 1968 until 1992, at which time it received a temporary ban from the United States FDA. The silicone implants remained in use throughout Europe, Canada, and South America. At the time of the banning, there was a concern that silicone implants could potentially be linked to the development of autoimmune disease like Lupus. However, in 2006 the FDA removed the ban on silicone implants after receiving clear evidence that the implants were not responsible for the development of these diseases. During the years 1992 through 2006, the only breast implants available in the United States were saline. Today, both types of breast implants are available and used in breast augmentations.

Saline Implants

Saline implants are made from a silicone shell that is then filled with a saline solution. This saline solution is very similar in composition to the saline that occurs naturally in the body. Saline implants generally feel firmer than their silicone counterparts, something that some women consider to be a disadvantage. Generally, saline implants do not feel as much like natural breasts as silicone implants do. They may also be easier to detect visually than silicone implants, particularly in very thin women with only a small amount of natural breast tissue.

An advantage of saline implants is that they require a smaller incision than silicone implants do. Saline implants also have adjustable fill volume, which allows Dr. Patterson to make volume adjustments once the implant is placed in the chest. In most cases, saline implants are less expensive than silicone implants. Patients need to carefully weigh the lower cost of saline against the advantages of silicone to decide which works best for them.

Silicone Implants

Silicone gel implants are made of Mentor MemoryGel. Dr. Patterson uses this type of implant because it has a unique composition of cohesive silicone. This silicone bands together naturally, instead of dispersing if a rupture occurs.

MemoryGel is also the preferred silicone implant option due to its natural feel. The silicone so closely replicates the feel of natural breast fat that it is difficult to distinguish between them by touch. This natural feel is one of the main advantages of silicone implants. Many people also feel that silicone implants offer a superior visual result in terms of looking natural, as silicone implants may look more like a natural breast than saline implants.

Silicone implants do require a larger incision than saline implants, which may be considered a drawback by some. The larger incision could leave a larger scar, although the vast majority of breast implant scars do fade away significantly over time, regardless of the implant type chosen. The other potential drawback to silicone implants is the cost. Generally, this type of implant is around $1,000 more than saline implants.

Round Versus Shaped (Gummy bear) Implants

For many years, all breast implants were round, and this became the expected implant shape until the last several years, when anatomically correct implants were introduced. The natural anatomical shape of the breast more closely resembles a teardrop than a round disc, and these newer implants recognize that fact.

Saline implants are available only in the round type, but with silicone implants, both round and teardrop shape are available. The teardrop shaped implants are often called “Gummy bear” implants due to their material. Like the gummy bear candy, these silicone implants are pliable yet keep their shape when molded. Gummy bear implants are made from Mentor’s most highly cohesive material and will retain the natural breast shape they are molded into.

Making Your Choice: Saline or Silicone?

Saline and silicone have some things in common. Both have three profile options: Moderate, moderate plus, and high profile. Both implant types are available in smooth and textured shell surfaces. However, the differences are significant, so the choice between saline and silicone is an entirely personal one.

Every patient is unique Dr. Patterson will work with you to help you decide which type of implant is best for your unique body type. Click below to set up a consultation with Dr. Patterson today!