Many women would like to have breast augmentation surgery, while others need breast reconstruction surgery. Both styles of cosmetic breast augmentation require breast implants.
There are two types of breast implants to choose from – saline and silicon – when it comes to breast enhancement surgery. Both types of breast implants achieve similar results and are FDA approved. There are pluses and minuses for both breast implant materials.
Below is more information about these types of breast implants and some general information about breast implant safety.
Saline breast implants have been in use since the 1960s. Their outer silicone shell is empty prior to placing it . When it is placed in the breast, it’s filled with sterile salt water, and the smaller incision contributes to less scar tissue. These implants tend to cost less than silicone.
One of the disadvantages of saline is that some women say they can be seen more easily under the skin, which can cause rippling. Others say they can feel the solution sloshing around as they move.
There also are baffled saline implants with the saltwater in different chambers, so the water cannot move as easily. Saline implants are considered safe and effective for women 18 and older.
These implants are made entirely of silicone, a synthetic material that feels like human breast tissue. The products have a case made from silicone that are filled with silicone gel inside.
Silicone implants come in various breast implant sizes and shapes. Some implants are firmer and more cohesive than others. Some of these are referred to as ‘gummy bear’ breast implants. You and your plastic surgeon can talk about which type of breast implant is best for your goals.
Some patients think that silicone breast implants look and feel more natural. However, there are safety concerns if a silicone implant ruptures.
That’s why manufacturers recommend having an MRI every few years to check for silicone implant ruptures. If you opt for silicone implants, speak to your doctor about setting up these screenings and when you should have them.
You have to be at least 22 to have silicone implants unless it’s for breast reconstruction. Also, it’s legal to have silicone implants when you’re under 22, but most implant manufacturers do not honor warranties with patients that young.
Breast Implant Safety
Silicone breast implants and saline breast implants are both considered safe if an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon performs your breast augmentation.
Some believe that saline breast implants are safer due to the fact that if the implant leaks after rupturing, most saline solution is absorbed by the body. Also, with saline, you know immediately if there was a rupture, and you can take action. Revision surgery may be required.
Research is mixed, but some clinical studies suggest a connection between silicone breast implants and autoimmune diseases, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Both silicone and saline breast implants are made with silicone shells, so you may not want to have breast implants if you have an autoimmune problem.
Some women have a variety of health problems known as breast implant illness or BII. The symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, brain fog, aches, pains, and gastrointestinal symptoms.
There isn’t any direct evidence that any breast implants cause BII, but some patients say removing the breast implants made their symptoms disappear.
Also, there is some correlation between breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma or BIA-ALCL with some types of breast implants. The ones that seem to have this problem are textured or rough surface implants. BIA-ALCL is a type of immune system cancer, not breast cancer, and is usually detected about 10 years after breast implant surgery.
While ruptures are rare, this can happen with either implant. Here’s what to look for if an implant ruptures:
You’ll probably notice a saline implant rupture immediately because the breast will deflate. Fortunately, saline is sterile, and your body will easily absorb it. You’ll probably need surgery to take out the silicone shell.
During this surgery, your surgeon can put in a new breast implant.
A ruptured silicone implant is tougher to detect, and the silicone can get stuck in the fibrous capsule that forms in breast tissue around your implant after surgery. This is called a silent leak, but you could feel a slight change in the breast feel or size.
If the implant is left alone, the leaking silicone gel breast implants can cause pain or changes to the breast shape. You’ll need revision surgery to replace the implant. Or, you can have the implant removed and return your breasts to their normal size. Some people as they get older, choose to have their implants removed and have a breast reduction.
Breast implants last about 15 years before there is a significant chance of rupture.
Overall, remember that neither saline nor silicone implants is guaranteed to last for life. About 20% of patients need to have their implants replaced after eight or 10 years. This could be due to ruptures or aesthetic reasons. Usually, removal surgery isn’t covered by health insurance.
Also, if you are worried about the safety of breast implants, consider a breast lift or fat transfer breast enhancement. This procedure uses liposuction to remove fat from another area, which is injected into the breasts for a small size increase.
Questions and Answers
What type of breast implant lasts the longest?
The latest 5th generation of silicone breast implants is crafted from a “highly cohesive” silicone gel, offering superior performance compared to earlier models. These implants are anticipated to have a lifespan of 15-20 years or more.
What breast implants don’t need replacement?
There isn’t a predetermined timeframe for replacing breast implants. Saline and silicone implants typically have a lifespan ranging from 10 to 20 years, but they can last beyond that. They only need to be replaceed if you encounter issues with your implants.
Are the gummy bear breast implants the safest type of breast implant?
Introduced in the mid-2000s, gummy bear breast implants are deemed safe and are FDA approved breast implants. In contrast to earlier silicone and saline implants, which had a higher risk of rupture and leakage, gummy bear implants are more robust and present a reduced risk of leakage.
Request A Breast Augmentation Consultation Today
Interested in a Las Vegas breast augmentation? Please schedule a consultation with board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Rachel Mason today! She will review the options with you about breast augmentation, your goals and help determine if you’re an ideal candidate for this procedure.
- Saline Vs. Silicone Breast Implants. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/breast-implants/art-20045957
- What To Know About Breast Implants. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-know-about-breast-implants