Saline or Silicone? The Breast Augmentation Debate Rages On

Memory gel breast implants are safer than the silicone version, according to recent reports. During current breast augmentation surgery, patients receive silicone implants that have a more cohesive gel and a tougher shell. This is a vast improvement over earlier versions, which had been known to leak. In fact, these gel filled versions are now being considered safer than their saline competitors. This is a welcome change from the state of silicone breast implants in the early 90s, when the FDA put a moratorium on selling and implanting them. Fortunately, the ban was lifted in 2006, after manufacturers demonstrated advances in silicone breast implant technology.

The biggest difference between saline and silicone implants is that saline implants are inserted as a flat shell. Once they have been put into place, they are then filled with a saline solution. Silicone implants are faster because the surgeon does not need to do anything except maneuver the implant into place. Saline implants, however, can be inserted through the armpit, outside the areola, the belly button, or under the breast. In addition, the surgeon needs less of an incision to insert the empty saline shell, as opposed to the fully inflated silicone version. This means that the patient has less scarring after surgery.

Disadvantages for silicone include the difficulty of detecting leaks and inability to change sizes without additional surgery. Disadvantages for saline include lack of natural shape and reports of a sloshing sound during physical activity. Patients should discuss their options with their doctors and find the choice that works best for them.