Both are approved by the FDA but which is better? Each has its own benefits and advantages. Each has its own potential liabilities and disadvantages. Neither is perfect. But both have their good points. After a physical examination, a detailed consultation and a thorough review of all the various pro’s and con’s with your plastic surgeon, an informed choice can be made. But there really is no wrong answer or better implant – the implant that represents the best overall choice for you is the right one. Let’s take a look at some of the key points you should be considering in your decision making process.
The saline (physiological salt water) which is silicone blocks used to fill saline breast implants comes directly from an IV saline bag. Instead of going into your circulatory system though an IV, the saline goes through the sterile tubing right into the implant. No one is doing research on the safety of sterile IV saline; millions of people receive IV saline every day all over the world. If it is safe enough to go directly into your veins, does it stand to reason that it would be just as safe to fill a breast implant with? This is an absolutely 100% safe fluid which is completely identical to one’s natural body fluid. The silicone gel inside silicone implants has been studied exhaustively. The FDA concluded that approval as a safe and effective device was warranted, granting such status in 2006. But studies are still ongoing and further long term evaluation and research mandated by the FDA is still pending. So silicone safety information is not quite the “slam dunk” it is for saline. Please see our associated article, “Are Silicone Implants Safe?” for more information on this subject.
2. FDA Minimum Age Requirement
As per FDA stipulations, patients must be age 22 or older to receive silicone gel implants. There is no age stipulation for saline implants.
When ordered for you and your procedure by your plastic surgeon’s office, silicone implants are roughly double the cost of saline implants.
Rippling is a phenomenon which occurs very commonly with saline implants but is extremely uncommon with silicone implants. Rippling is characterized by small longitudinal ridges, like the ripples on a pond, that might be felt along the bottom or the outer side of the breast where the tissues are usually their thinnest. In extreme cases, the ripples may even be visible. However, most of the time when rippling does occur it is of a very minimal nature. Patients with very low body fat, a petite body frame, thin skin and/or stretch marks on the breasts, and minimal breast tissue are at higher risk for significant rippling. But rippling can occur in anyone. Choosing a silicone implant lowers this risk substantially.