Saline and silicone breast implants both use an outer silicone shell. Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water after they have been inserted. On the other hand, silicone implants are pre-filled with silicone gel. Silicone implants cost about $1,000 more, have a more "natural" feel, are lighter but require a larger incision for insertion and annual MRIs after surgery.
Breast augmentation can sometimes be done as an outpatient procedure, or may require an overnight hospital stay. The procedure takes one to two hours and is done under general anesthesia.
Silicone implants are pre-filled and so they need a larger incision. Typically, this incision is made under the breast or around the nipple. Saline implants may instead use an incision under the armpit.
Pros and Cons
Saline implants have a flexible fill volume, allowing the surgeon to adjust the size as needed during the procedure. If a saline implant ruptures, it will deflate, and the leaking solution will be absorbed by the body, where it does not pose any health risk. Surgery is needed to remove the silicone shell.
Many women feel that silicone feels and looks more like natural breast tissue. As silicone is lighter than saline, the risk of downwards displacement due to gravity is lower. However, they lead to a larger scar. If it ruptures, there may not be any noticeable difference, but may lead to pain or changes in shape. Because it may not be detectable, those with silicone implants may need regular MRI scans. Only two companies, Mentor and Allergan, are approved to sell silicone implants after health concerns from the FDA.
Costs vary depending on location and doctor but typically ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. Silicone implants typically cost $900-$1000 more than saline implants.
Regardless of implant type, recovery takes two to three weeks.
Annual exams are recommended after breast implant surgery, especially for silicone implants. An MRI may be recommended to ensure that the implant has not ruptured.