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Q. Which are better: saline or silicone implants?

If you’re considering breast augmentation surgery, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is whether to choose a saline or silicone implant. Each option has its own set of advantages, so your decision will depend on your personal preferences and circumstances. Your surgeon can help you make the choice that’s right for you.

Saline breast implants are made up of a thick silicone shell, which is inserted into the chest and then filled with sterile salt water. Because the implant is inserted first and then filled, a smaller incision can be made, resulting in a smaller scar. By filling the silicone shell with different amounts of saline, the surgeon can control the shape, firmness and feel of the breast to a certain degree. Saline breast implants are approved for any woman over the age of 18.

If the shell begins to leak, the salt water will be absorbed and expelled by the body naturally and with no associated health risks. As the saline is absorbed, the shell will visibly collapse, so it’s immediately clear when the implant needs to be replaced.

Silicone breast implants also have a shell made of silicone, but they are filled with a resilient silicone gel that feels and moves like natural breast tissue. Because silicone implants must be filled before they’re inserted into the chest, the incision needs to be bigger and the resulting scar will be larger.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved silicone breast implants since 2006. Now any woman over the age of 22 may choose silicone breast implants for cosmetic or breast reconstruction surgery.

Silicone implant leaks are harder to detect than saline implant leaks, because the silicone implant doesn’t always noticeably deflate. For this reason, women with silicone implants may be advised to visit the surgeon periodically to ensure the implants are in good condition.

Both silicone and saline implants can placed the implants behind or in front of the pectoral muscles. The placement decision depends on the degree of enlargement you choose, your body type, and your surgeon’s recommendations.


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