Silicone gel breast implants were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 after extensive testing showed that they were safe for use. Silicone implants offer more natural looking and feeling results than their saline counterparts because silicone gel is more similar in consistency to breast tissue than the saline solution.
Breast Implant Fillers: Silicone Implants
Silicone breast implants are designed with a shell of silicone surrounding a gel, which is also silicone based. Silicone breast implants used to be common; however, they were pulled from general use in 1992 because of various health concerns (in particular, concerns about implant rupture and leakage). Due to that, saline breast implants became the go-to choice for breast augmentation.
The FDA rescinded the ban on silicone breast implants in November 2006, after medical studies that had been utilized to say that silicone was unsafe were themselves discredited, and other concerns about shell ruptures were answered with a more durable shell. Now women have both saline and silicone types of breast implants available for breast augmentation.
Benefits of Silicone Implants
One of the best advantages silicone implants have is their natural appearance, both to the eye and to the touch, which exceeds that of saline implants by a fair amount. The silicone material is a close facsimile of actual breast tissue, which makes under-the-muscle placement feel very natural. The eventual rippling effect that happens with saline implants is also less common here, since the filler gel helps push out against the inward pressure. This makes it a popular choice for thinner women or those who want reconstructive breast surgery.
Drawbacks of Silicone Implants
One of the disadvantages of silicone implants in comparison to saline implants is that a rupture will go undetected with silicone. When a saline implant ruptures, it is immediately evident. The saline solution quickly dissipates, and the implant collapses. On the other hand, when a silicone implant ruptures, the gel can escape the implant yet stay within the pocket of tissue keeping the implant in place, making detection of the rupture difficult.
Silicone breast implants have a higher rate of capsular contracture than saline implants. Capsular contracture is when scar tissue around the implants harden and squeeze them uncomfortably, making the breasts feel hard and sometimes look irregular. Your surgeon can give you more information about this and other breast augmentation risks and potential complications from breast implants.
In addition, because silicone breast implants come pre-filled, they require larger incisions for insertion. Silicone implants do cost more than saline filled implants, so make sure to take that into consideration when discussing augmentation cost.
Candidates for Silicone Breast Implants
To get either type of breast implants, patients need to be physically healthy, and neither pregnant nor nursing. Silicone implants should be considered for women with:
- A mastectomy, and are now seeking reconstruction
- A pre-existing implant that causes extreme deformities or wrinkling
- Congenital chest deformities and asymmetry
- A traumatic chest injury in their medical history
- Breast tissue that is unable to support a saline implant
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more breast augmentation before and after photos.
Photo credit: Dr. Brian Kobienia
Locate a Doctor in Your Area through DocShop
Silicone breast implants offer a more natural look than saline implants but are more expensive. If you are considering breast augmentation surgery, use DocShop to help you find a highly qualified plastic surgeon in your area to learn more about the types of breast implants available and which is best suited to your needs and the look you desire.