Breast Implants Silicone Vs Saline: Which One Is Better?

When women are considering a breast augmentation surgery, they are faced with the choice – which type of implant is right for them? Generally, there are two types of breast implants: silicone gel and saline implants.

Saline-filled implants are typically silicone shells that are filled with sterile saltwater. Many of these are generally pre-filled, while many others are filled during their operation. Silicone-filled implants are silicone shells that are filled with plastic gel or silicone.

Breast Implants Silicone Vs Saline

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What’s the Difference Between Silicone and Saline Breast Implants?

There are several differences between silicone and saline breast implants. Cosmetic surgeons usually explain the pros and cons of both. It is tough to determine which one is better since it is dependent on several conditions, which includes the body type of the patient.

Breast Implants Silicone Vs Saline – Know the Differences

Silicone gel

Silicone gel refers to an inert polymer which has no history of human sensitivities, reactions or allergies. Quite similar to the gummy bear candy, all molecules are usually stuck to each other is a kind of cohesive matrix. Silicon is different from saline in many ways – it flows differently in the shell and it is also more vicious. The breast gets quite a natural look and also feel, quite similar to the breast tissue. However, to use this type of implant, women need to be 22 years or older, according to the FDA guidelines.

There are a few associated risks of silicone breast implants, mainly because our body does not have silicone presented naturally. The associated risks include:

  • Risk of leakage. If there is leakage, the gel might spread out of the shell.
  • There is a risk of slow leakage and silent rupture. If it happens, it can be detected only through MRI or magnetic resonance imaging. This is one of the reasons why screening is recommended every two years.
  • There is also a risk of replacement and removal which might need one more surgery.

In case silicone leaks into your body, there might be additional problems. Some first symptoms include:

  • Hardening;
  • Lump formation;
  • Irritation, pain, and distortion in breast.

Women often report symptoms that are closely associated with silicone leaks which include memory loss problems, fatigue, joint pain and also cognitive difficulties or brain fog.

Ruptured Saline Breast Implants

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Saline (sterile saltwater)

Saline-filled implants are commonly available and suitable for all women above the age of 18 years. A Saline implant is quite sterile and is quite like other fluids present in the body. Thus, they are considered to be safer. In the case of a saline implant, even if there is a leakage it gets easily detected. But, they tend to have a rippling effect when moving, which often makes them look artificial.

There are three types of saline implants:

  • There is a single saline sac which is filled with a pre-determined quantity of saline. This type of implant cannot be expanded;
  • A pre-filled sac which contains saline and cannot be expanded once the surgery is done;
  • A single sac that gets filled with saline during the surgery. There is a valve through which more saline can be added after the surgery.

This silicone shell implant gets inserted into the body. It is filled according to the desired volume by a plastic surgeon with the same kind of saline fluid. Saline has a similar consistency to water. Under the skin, the different folds of the saline implant can be easily felt. This is also known as implant wrinkling or rippling. Saline implants are advantageous as they are postoperatively adjustable with the help of a remote injection port. This is quite common in various kinds of breast reconstruction procedures. It helps in fine-tuning the implant volume before the removal of the implant port.

There are a few risks of saline breast implants. These include:

  • Risks associated with leakage and rupture – this is when the breast implant deflates;
  • The area around the implant can harden;
  • Additional surgery risks for replacement and removal

What Happens If an Implant Ruptures?

Now, let us understand saline vs silicone breast implants – rupture scenario!

Ruptured Saline Breast Implants

In the case of a rupture in a saline breast implant, the implant deflates. As a result, there is a change in the shape and size of the breast. The saline solution gets absorbed into the body without posing any kind of health risk. However, there might be a surgery needed to remove this silicone shell. If the patient needs a new implant, the new implant can be inserted at the same time.

Ruptured Silicone Breast Implants

If a silicone breast implant ruptures, it gets noticed right away. The free silicone is trapped in the capsule or fibrous tissue around the implant. This is called a silent rupture. If the silicone leaks, it will not cause any kind of health problem. There are no risks of rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer or reproductive problems as well. However, a woman might experience changes in the shape of the breast, thickening of breasts and also experience breast pain. If anything like this happens, your cosmetic surgeon will recommend its removal. During the removal surgery, a new implant can be placed simultaneously.

Ruptured Silicone Breast Implants

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Saline Vs Silicone Breast Implants


Silicone vs saline breast implants costs is certainly worth considering when you are planning a breast augmentation surgery. Recent studies have revealed that breast implant manufacturers charge more for silicone breast implants. The cost of surgery, medicines, fees for the cosmetic surgeon and post-surgery garments add to the expenses as well. Due to FDA recommendations, silicone implant recipients should get MRIs done regularly so that any silent rupture can be detected. If such a recommendation is followed, the process might get a lot more expensive.

Look and Feel

Women mention a lot of differences between saline and silicone breast implants look and feel. The main benefit of silicone implants is their aesthetic look. Thus, they are the choice for women who have little natural breast tissue for covering the implants.


Saline implants are generally filled during their time of surgery. They need a comparatively small incision when compared to the silicone implants. Besides, there is a lot of versatility when it is something about incision placement. They are not like silicone implants which are generally placed through an incision. This incision is usually along the armpit and known as trans-axillary incision. They are also placed right at the breast fold which is known as inframammary incision. Saline implants can be inserted through a small incision made along the areola border. Thus, due to the difference in incision points and locations, the breast augmentation scars too differs in many ways. With little scarring there is a difference in recovery time as well. You can check some of the breast implants saline vs silicone pictures to know about the effects of scarring.

The History of Saline and Silicone Implants

The silicone and saline breast implants have been around since the 1960s. Ever since their introduction, they have been the most popular implant in terms of their natural feel and look.. However, in 1992, the Federal Drug Administration banned silicone implants for health reasons. These were banned due to lingering concerns or risks of developing auto-immune disorders which include lupus or arthritis. Thus, between 1992 to 2006, women had only saline breast implants as an option in the United States.

Though silicone implants remained banned in the U.S., these implants were popular all-over South America, Europe, and Canada. In 2006, the FDA finally removed the ban since no evidence was found to support all such concerns. Research reveals that the risk associated with developing an auto-immune disease remained the same – whether a silicone implant is used or no implant is used.

Breast Implants Silicone Vs Saline FAQs

  • Difference between saline and silicone breast implants: which is better?

Patients tend to prefer silicone gel breast implants because they do not look artificial. Since gel is used in the implant, there is no risk of leakage as it happens in case of saline. This is one reason why silicone implants are considered to be better.

  • How long do silicone breast implants last vs saline implants?

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery along with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons believe that silicone and saline implants, do last between 10-20 years.

  • What is the percent of women who have silicone vs saline breast implants?

It is known that 46 % of women who had silicone gel implants and approximately 21 % of women who had saline implants, had one re-operation in 3 years. It is also known that 25% of women with silicone implants and at least 8% of women with saline implants had to get it removed. At least 16% of saline patients and 6% of silicone patients do have breast pain.

  • Saline vs silicone implants breast reconstruction how long do they last?

Whether it is a saline implant or silicone implant, breast augmentation or reconstruction doesn’t last a lifetime. A lot depends on the success of reconstruction surgery, especially the experience and skill of the plastic surgeon. Women are also advised to follow the surgeon’s recommendation during the recovery phase. Breast augmentation can last anywhere between 10-20 years.

  • Which came first silicone vs saline breast implants?

Silicone breast implants which are filled with saline or silicone gel were first available and sold in the US in the 1960s, though the sales were quite low. They were not considered to be safe for a long time, until they were approved in November 2006 by the FDA.


Based on the breast anatomy, your body type, and various other factors, the surgeon can easily recommend a breast reconstruction technique or a type of implant over the other. It is your choice – whether you choose a silicone implant or a saline implant.

You can also opt for no surgery breast enlargement in case you are not prepared for any surgery. You can also purchase some of the top-rated breast enhancement creams and see the difference.

Last updated on September 29th, 2020 Team

Academic Association of Medicine is the go-to resource for all health-related issues. We are an independent body that seeks to offer general information on various health topics and unbiased reviews on health products.

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