The modern age of breast augmentation began in the mid 1960s, when the first silicone gel implants were used. The breast implant manufacturing process has improved and matured over the years. Today’s silicone breast implants balance the requisite softness needed for a natural-feeling breast, and the strength needed for durability.
A Brief History of Saline vs. Silicone
In the early 1990s, the FDA mandated a moratorium on the use of silicone breast implants to perform further research on safety concerns. This left plastic surgeons with no choice but to use saline breast implants.
My training in plastic surgery and my early experience in my practice allowed me to be very comfortable with the use of silicone breast implants. However, the FDA’s silicone implant moratorium changed the playing field. All of the United States breast implant manufacturers – except two – left the field. The remaining two manufacturers further improved the saline breast implants currently being made. Breast cancer patients were essentially the only patients allowed to receive silicone breast implants during the moratorium.
Fast forward to today: after an absence of 16 years, silicone breast implants are back on the market for breast augmentation patients. The manufacturing companies market these implants strongly and many surgeons have returned to their use, nearly abandoning the use of saline implants altogether.
The Benefits of Saline Breast Implants
Are saline implants going the way of the dinosaurs, good manners, and a working knowledge of the English language?
Dr. Harrell’s answer is most definitely NO!
Let’s look at why saline breast implants are here to stay – at least for a good while:
- Saline breast implants cost half as much as silicone implants, making them a valuable choice for the budget-conscious patient.
- Saline breast implants can be inserted into the body while they are still deflated, allowing Dr. Harrell to use a much smaller incision.
- Saline breast implants can be placed through the most inconspicuous incision location of all – the umbilicus – for patients who do not want any incisions at all on the breasts.
- If a saline breast implant leaks, you will notice a decrease in volume relatively quickly, making it obvious when your implants need to be replaced. Meanwhile, ruptured silicone implants can go undetected for a long period of time, and usually require an expensive MRI or surgery to confirm.
- Despite the huge body of scientific research supporting the safety of silicone in the human body, many patients simply don’t want to put a larger amount of silicone in their bodies, instead opting for the more natural saline breast implant.
- Even though silicone breast implants have a more realistic feel than saline implants, most patients with large A or small B cup breasts have enough breast tissue to adequately cover the implants, cushioning them to the point where they look and feel quite natural.
The Benefits of Silicone Breast Implants
With all of these advantages in mind, what are the benefits of silicone implants? Well, first they are somewhat softer feeling, particularly in women with very little natural breast tissue. They are also less likely to be felt through the breast skin, and less likely to show visible wrinkles through the breast skin – a side effect called “rippling.”
However, in very thin individuals, even silicone is not immune to this problem. Because of this, I lean towards silicone breast implants for patients who have very little breast tissue, or who want the absolute softest implant possible. Otherwise, saline breast implants still remain a solid choice, providing great natural results and providing some benefits that silicone cannot match.
If you would like more information about breast implants, please contact us today to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Jon Harrell at the Weston Center for Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery. We proudly serve the Weston, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Plantation, and Davie areas of Florida.