Breast Implant Type: Saline or Silicone – How Does a Patient Choose?

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Breast implants have been available since 1963 when the first breast augmentation was performed in Houston. The first breast implants were made out of a silicone shell and filled with silicone oil. These remained on the market in a variety of forms until 1992 with the federal government imposed a moratorium on silicone implants pending medical evaluation. All studies evaluating long-term health effects found that the implants posed no threat to the health of the patient. However, the implants did leak and the silicone oil could migrate to areas outside of the breast.

Companies reformulated the implants with better shells and they changed the filling to a cohesive silicone gel. After extensive studies, these cohesive gel implants (sometimes called gummy-bear implants by some surgeons), received FDA approval. The filling of these implants differs significantly from the old oil filled implants. If the implant were sliced ​​in half, the filling looks like you have sliced ​​a piece of Jell-O in half. The filling does not ooze out and migrate.

Saline breast implants have been on the market since 1968. The implant has a very similar shell to the silicone implant, and, it has a filling valve that the surgeon uses during the procedure to fill it. Saline is a salt-water solution that has the same electrolyte osmolality of plasma. It is commonly used as an intravenous solution.

Each implant has advantages and disadvantages. First lets consider breakage. All implants, just like all mechanical devices known to man, will break. It is generally stated that saline implants have an average life span of ten-fifteen years. This means that some implants will last shorter than 10 years, some much longer than 10 years, and many will need to be replaced somewhere in that 10-15 year range. When a saline implant breaks, either the valve malfunctions, or the shell tears, and the saline leaks out. The patient will not feel a pop or anything, however, the body unfortunately absorbs the saline and the breast deflates. Silicone implants also break. The latest studies show a breakage rate of 8% at 10 years. Because the new cohesive gel silicone does not migrate like the old oil implants, a patient may not be aware that the shell has torn. Therefore, it is recommended that a patient have an MRI intermittently to check for implant rupture.

Patients are commonly under the impression that they need to change their implants every ten years. This is not true. If the implant is not broken, and the patient is happy with her breasts, there is no need to change the implant.

Now lets consider the most important aspect differentiating saline and silicone implants: performance. Implant performance is determined by look and feel. Some aspects of the implants may be noticeable. Specifically, the implants may have visible ripples. These become more prominent in patients with less breast tissue and in patients with less body fat. Silicone implants tend to have significantly less visible rippling than saline implants. Implants also come in several different profiles, meaning how much they project for a given base diameter. Different profiles produce different looks ranged from very natural to very round. Saline implants allow the surgeon to tailor the look slowly more than silicone implants because the surgeon can overfill the implant to a certain extent. This may be useful for a patient looking for a very round look.

Finally, the patient should consider feel. Silicone implants tend to feel much more natural than saline implants. Yet some patients actually want a firmer feel to their breasts so the advantage really lies in a patient's desire.

Choosing the implant type is important prior to having your augmentation. Know what you are choosing and why.

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Source by Marc S Schneider