Deciding to get breast implants is a big decision for anyone to make. We’ve worked with thousands of patients at our Bergen County, NJ office and each of them has had unique questions and goals relating breast implants. However, one of the most common questions that we’ve come across relates to silicone vs. saline breast implants.

Both silicone and saline breast implants are approved by the FDA and have been available for many years. You’ll find hundreds of thousands of breast implant patients who have each type–and are happy with them. Whether silicone or saline implants are right for you is determined based on your unique goals for your breast augmentation surgery.

There are several distinct benefits of each type of breast implant that makes them suitable for different women.

Silicone vs. Saline Breast Implants: What’s the Difference?

Depending upon your individual goals for your breast implant surgery, you’ll find that one of these may be a better fit for you. Although silicone implants are chosen by roughly 75 to 80 percent of women, the “popular” choice may not be what’s best for you. Here are some of the key differences to keep in mind:

Saline: Saline breast implants are saline-filled, with silicone shells. These implants are inserted empty (or partially filled) and once in place, filled with sterile saline (salt water).

Silicone: Silicone breast implants are comprised of silicone shells, pre-filled with a silicone (plastic) gel. Many women say that silicone implants look and feel more like natural breasts than saline implants do.

Saline and silicone breast implants share similar risks which may require additional surgery to remove or replace the implants. Some of these risks include:

  • Scar tissue: The breast implant’s shape may become distorted if scar tissue places pressure on the implant, which can result in a condition called capsular contracture. This can make the implant feel hard and become painful.
  • Change in breast and/or nipple sensation, which is often a temporary condition.
  • Infection.
  • Implant leakage or rupture.

Although these risks aren’t very common, they are something you should be aware of and keep in mind prior to surgery.

Deciding Between Implant Types for Breast Augmentation Surgery

The unique qualities of each type of breast implant silicone vs. saline mean that they each can work for different women and different situations. Here are some of the main benefits and decision factors you should consider when choosing your breast implants.

You should review all options and make your decision based on which factors are most important to you, with specific input from your surgeon (relevant to your particular situation and goals):

  • Shape: Both saline and silicone implants are available in a number of different shapes, including round and a teardrop or “contour” shape. Some implants are also described as high profile or moderate profile, which refers to the projection, or how far they jut out from the chest wall.
  • Shell: Both saline and silicone implants are offered in textured or smooth shell types. Both shells have advantages touted by manufacturers but not conclusively proven. Some say that texture can help the implant stay in place rather than rotating and that it lessens the chance of implants hardening due to scar tissue (capsular contracture). However, some feel that textured shells are more susceptible to wrinkling and feel unnatural.
  • Warranty: Many manufacturers of both saline and silicone breast implants offer a limited warranty on their product. Some will offer a warranty stating that should replacement be necessary due to a leaking implant, the patient will not have to buy the implant(s) again. Read all warranty information carefully as there are limitations and conditions that affect real-world coverage. Breast implant companies may or may not cover the other fees associated with replacement, like a surgeon or operating room fees.
  • Longevity: Neither silicone nor saline breast implants are considered lifetime devices. This is especially true for women who have implants relatively early in life. Studies have shown that both saline and silicone implants last equally as long in the body.
  • Feel: Many women feel that the gel in silicone implants makes them feel more similar to real breasts. However, surgical technique and placement may make saline implants feel comparable to silicone once the breast augmentation surgery is complete. Talk to your surgeon and examine some samples before making your decision.
  • FDA approval details: Saline implants have never been removed from the market after gaining FDA approval. Silicone implants were removed from the market in 1992 after the FDA became concerned that silicone could pose a risk if breast implants leak as silicone is a foreign substance to the body. After reviewing additional research, the FDA allowed certain silicone breast implants back on the market in 2006. Both types of implants originally became available in the early 1960s.
  • Size: Some saline implants are marketed as “adjustable” in size since they are filled (or partially filled) after being placed. Sizes of breast implants are given in cc (the volume in cubic centimeters). The same volume (cc) breast implant will appear different on women of different frame sizes, so there is no direct correlation between cc and cup size. Your surgeon may use implant sizers to give you an idea of (and a way to “try on”) your result.
  • Incision length: Since saline implants are inserted empty (or less than completely full), smaller incisions may be needed to place them during the surgical procedure. This could result in less time in the operating room, less scarring, quicker healing and a lower cost. However, many variables are involved. To find out about relative surgical methods and incisions, talk to your surgeon.
  • Cost: There are many unique factors that determine the cost, that it is difficult to say overall which breast implants (saline vs. silicone) would cost more or less. Saline implants themselves are generally cheaper than silicone. The cost of your breast implant procedure would depend on your geographical location, where your surgery is taking place (hospital vs. surgery center), your doctor’s skill and experience level and the type of implant you choose. Health insurance will typically only cover breast implants in the case of breast reconstruction or, in some cases, reduction.

Which Breast Implant is Right For Me – Silicone vs. Saline?

The choice of breast implants, silicone vs. saline, is up to you, provided you meet age requirements and are a good candidate for the breast augmentation procedure. To make a truly informed decision that accounts for your specific needs and goals of your breast enlargement outcome, you should talk to an expert plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

When choosing silicone vs. saline implants, it’s helpful to hear what your breast surgeon’s experience has shown when working with each type of implant on various types of women.

Getting your surgeon’s point of view will also be helpful to determine if they are the best surgeon for you. After all, the surgeon you choose will be your partner in reaching your goals for a successful breast augmentation procedure.

Breast Implant Surgery in NJ

Cohen/Winters Aesthetic and Reconstructive surgeons have been working for more than a decade with NJ patients. We are experts in the industry and truly believe that you need to speak with a surgeon to help you make an informed decision about your breast implants.

The decisions you make prior to surgery are extremely important to your future happiness with your breast implant experience. We believe that information truly enhances the experience, which is why we’d love to meet with you to discuss your options.

breast surgeon NJ

Dr. Cohen

About Dr. Cohen

Dr. Cohen specializes in breast lifts, augmentations, revisions and reductions as well as breast cancer reconstructions. A long time dream of Dr. Cohen’s was to travel to developing countries and provide expert surgical care to those who have no other possible access to medical care. This became a reality in 2007 when she became a founding member and Vice President of ISMS Operation Kids.