If you’re considering breast augmentation, then you have some decisions to make before the surgery. One of the most important is choosing between silicone breast implants or saline implants. Although saline implants are still the right choice for some patients, silicone implants have proven to be more popular in the past few years.
There are many reasons why you might choose silicone implants over saline for breast augmentation. Read on to learn more about these popular implants and what might make them the right choice for you.
What’s the History of Silicone Breast Implants?
According to some reports, more than 1.5 million women in the US have silicone breast implants. The first silicone breast implants were used in breast augmentation in 1962. In the mid-1970s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started regulating silicone implants. Under the FDA’s eye, silicone implants became subject to performance standards, controls, and tests for safety.
Although the earliest silicone implants were popular, they weren’t without controversy. By the early 1990s, the FDA had called for a “voluntary moratorium” on the use of silicone implants. In 1992, many manufacturers began pulling their products from the market. At that point, the FDA recommended that silicone implants only be used for breast reconstruction, not for cosmetic breast surgery.
In 2006, after more than a decade of further study and testing, the FDA once again approved silicone implants for use in cosmetic breast augmentation. By 2010, silicone implants were being used in nearly two-thirds of cosmetic breast surgeries.
Who Can Get Silicone Breast Implants?
Although saline implants are FDA-approved for people over the age of 18 for cosmetic purposes, a woman who wants breast augmentation using silicone implants should wait until the age of 22. But Silicone implants can be used for reconstruction of the breasts in patients of all ages.
Along with being the right age for silicone implants, there are a few other factors that determine whether or not a person is a good candidate for the implants. Ideally, a person seeking silicone implants will be in good overall health and won’t have any untreated or unmanaged chronic conditions.
It’s also important to have a realistic idea of what getting implants can and can’t do. In many cases, trying out sizers before deciding to have breast augmentation can help you choose the right size and shape for your implant and help prevent disappointment or dissatisfaction.
What Are the Benefits of Silicone Breast Implants?
Why are silicone implants so popular, especially compared to saline? Largely because they have a few advantages over saline for the right patient. While saline implants tend to feel firm and less natural, silicone implants are often soft to the touch and feel more like natural breast tissue. They also tend to look more natural than saline implants, which may appear overly round.
Types of Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone implants are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes to meet the needs of different patients. One option is the “gummy bear” implant, which is made from a thicker silicone gel. The thickness of the gel helps the implant hold its shape better and makes it less likely to rupture and cause problems.
Other silicone implant options include round implants, which can be used to create fuller-looking breasts. The shell of the implants can be smooth or textured. Smooth-shell implants often move more easily, which can look more natural. Textured-shell implants are more likely to form scar tissue that connects to the implant. The scar tissue limits movement, meaning that the implant is less likely to shift out of place.
What Are the Drawbacks of Silicone Breast Implants?
While silicone implants remain popular, they do have drawbacks for some patients. Some types of silicone implants are associated with a slightly elevated risk of a certain type of lymphoma. If you are considering textured silicone implants, it’s important to fully weigh the risks against the benefits of that type of implant.
Another potential drawback of silicone implants is that it can be more difficult to detect a problem with the implant itself. If a saline implant develops a leak, the implant will usually deflate, making it visually obvious that something is wrong. In contrast, the gel inside of a silicone implant typically stays put even when there’s a leak. Often, the only way to know that something is amiss is to have imaging performed.
Another drawback of silicone implants is that they come in predetermined sizes and are filled before placement. This means that your plastic surgeon will have to make a slightly larger incision during the surgery. Usually, the incision isn’t an issue for patients, as it is placed in the crease of the breast and is easy to conceal.
Are Silicone Implants Right for You?
If you’re thinking about breast augmentation, we recommend going to see a few plastic surgeons for a consultation to discuss your options between silicone or saline implants. If you’re on the fence or can’t decide, you might want to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to learn more about each option. A plastic surgeon can help you weigh the pros and cons of silicone or saline implants and can recommend the option that seems most appropriate based on your expectations and goals.
Dr. Paul Vitenas is a board-certified plastic surgeon who performs hundreds of breast surgeries each year. To learn more about your implant options, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation at his practice in Houston, Texas today.