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Comparing Saline Breast Implants and Silicone Implants

Posted Dec 22 2009 2:08am

Women who are not happy with the size or shape of their breast have the option of getting breast implants. This procedure has now become relatively routine. According to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, over 1 million such procedures are performed every year in the USA alone.

Women considering breast augmentation have a choice between saline and silicone breast implants. Saline is made mostly of salt water, while silicone is a gel like substance. While saline is generally considered the safer of the two, it is not so cut and dried. Both options have potential benefits and risks.

Saline Breast Implants

Generally, saline implants require smaller incisions than silicone implants do. It can be inserted through the belly button, under the breast, the armpit and outside the areola. So women who choose this implant have more options.

The incision with saline implants also tends to be smaller because they are inserted while empty. After they are inserted into the breast area, they are filled with the saline solution until the desired size is achieved. This is different from silicone implants which are inserted while filled, hence the need for bigger incisions and possibly more scarring.

The new generation of saline implant also allows the surgeon to make adjustments to the size after they have been inserted. This is ideal for women who have difficulty deciding on a size. The downside to saline implants is that they do not mimic the feel of natural breast tissue very well. They are more prone to rippling after insertion. While ruptures are easily detected due to almost immediate changes in the breast, the incidence of ruptures is also higher. Capsular contracture, scar tissue around the implants is also noticed more often with the saline variety.

Silicone Breast Implants

The makers of silicone implants recently breathed a sigh of relief after the FDA approved their use once again. They were created over 25 years ago but problems soon surfaced for women who had them. Women whose implants leaked experienced a number of health issues. This led the FDA to restrict their use in 1992, allowing the use of silicone breast implants only in special cases such as for women who had mastectomies. The FDA lifted its restriction on these implants in November 2006.

Once the silicone implants have settled, they have a more natural feel. They are also less prone to slipping or rippling. One potentially dangerous element of silicone implants however, is that they leak much more slowly than saline. So the gel will stay in the breast tissue for a while before being detected. Implants from silicone are however less likely to rupture.

As with many medical procedures, the decision to use saline and silicone is largely a personal one. Any woman considering breast augmentation will be guided by her doctor who will point out the pros and cons of both options. statistics have shown that whatever type they choose, the majority of women are happy with the results.

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