It appears that when silicone breast implants were approved by the FDA in 2006, the great saline versus silicone battle began. You have the choice between the two as a breast augmentation patient, so it is important you know the similarities and differences of both products. Knowledge is power. As a breast augmentation specialist, I want to help you make the best decision for your individual needs and desires.
One question I am often asked is which weighs more, saline or silicone. I understand this question to be important to you, because when you think of weight, you think of heavy, and when you think of heavy, you think of discomfort. However, when it comes to saline and silicone implants, you may be happy to know that there is only a minor difference in weight. At the same time, that weight difference does not play a significant role in the comfort of your breast.
Just by holding a saline breast implant in one hand and a silicone breast implant in the other, you may get the impression that silicone breast implant is heavier. However, the opposite appears to be true. This is based on the specific gravity of saline breast implant versus silicone breast implant. The specific gravity of saline is 1.0; that of silicone 0.97. Therefore, 100 milliliters (cc’s) of saline weighs 100 grams and 100 milliliters (cc’s) of silicone weighs 97 grams. Also, the silicone bag that holds in the saline has its own minor weight. An example is as follows. A 400cc saline implant weighs a total of 425 grams. A similar volume 400cc silicone implant weighs 400 grams. As you can see, the difference is not significant (25 grams is about 1/20 of a pound).
Putting the weight factor aside, there are several noteworthy similarities and differences between the two implants that may help you make your decision on which one to receive. Many patients ask me which implant is “better.” I would say neither one nor the other is necessarily better as they both are FDA-approved products with great qualities. The following information on saline and silicone implants should help you understand these similarities and differences.
Saline breast implants are adjustable in regards to volume although there are many silicone breast implant sizes. It may be a bit easier to adjust breast size with saline implants in women who do have unequal breast sizes. The incision used to place a saline implant is slightly shorter than for silicone because they can be placed in the pocket before they are inflated. Silicone implants are more similar to the feel of natural breast tissue than saline implants. This allows the breast to feel more natural especially in women with small breasts. They both provide the same appearance to the breast in that they are round in shape.
In the early 1990s at the request of the FDA, silicone implants were voluntarily removed from the market by the implant manufacturing companies in order to study their safety. There were concerns about a link between silicone implants and autoimmune disease. After many years of study, no link between silicone and any disease process could be identified. Silicone implants were approved by the FDA in November 2006 and made available to the general public for cosmetic breast augmentation.
Both types of breast implants are not meant to be lifetime devices and may eventually rupture. It is known that saline implants do have a higher risk of implant rupture than silicone. However, if a saline breast implant does rupture, the saline solution will naturally and safely absorb in the body. The breast will lose its volume making rupture easily detectable. A ruptured silicone implant is more difficult to detect, as the breast will maintain its shape and size. However, detection can be attained with an imaging study such as an MRI.
As with any surgical procedure, it is important to consult with your doctor. I find it essential that you ask as many questions as possible, and I am more than happy to answer them to not only educate you, but give you piece of mind. Please set up a breast augmentation consultation with me at my Scottsdale plastic surgery office today. You can can call the Scottsdale office at 480.890.0600 or send us a email by filling out the contact form on our website.