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Silicone vs. Saline

Plastic Surgery in Charleston, SCWhen considering breast augmentation surgery, you have a choice between saline-filled and silicone gel-filled breast implants. Here is more information about how each type of implant differs, and why one implant may be chosen over the other.


Over time and as breast augmentation surgery becomes more common, there is consensus on how silicone vs. saline breast implants tend to look and feel for the typical patient. All breast implants involve silicone shells – the difference is their filler. “Saline implants” are really silicone shells filled with sterile salt water. In “silicone implants”, a plastic gel or silicone fills the silicone shells. Silicone implants tend to have a more natural feel, since the filler has a consistency closer to the fat that fills real breasts. Saline implants may feel somewhat firmer than natural breasts.


The surgical procedure for silicone and saline implants differs slightly. Saline implants are first surgically placed inside the breast tissue, and then filled to size. The size of saline breast implants can be adjusted once they are placed to ensure symmetry. Silicone implants are pre-filled, so the incision site is slightly larger (4cm vs. 3cm). Although size of silicone implants cannot be adjusted once they are in place, our new MENTOR® Volume Sizing System when used pre-surgery can help you simulate your new look. Correct sizing of silicone implants can help create a symmetrical look and ensure a higher level of satisfaction post-surgery. Learn more about the breast implant procedure, recovery and results our patients can expect on our Breast Implants Q&A page.


The biggest safety concern with all breast implants has historically been what will happen if they rupture or leak, and this differs by type of implant. Because of concerns around this issue, saline implants were the only alternative available to women for many years. By 2006, new and improved silicone implants were allowed back on the market. Today researchers have developed durable silicone implants that are as safe as saline.

The new, improved silicone breast implants are filled with a silicone gel that is cohesive, while retaining the feel of natural breast tissue. These new implants are much less likely to leak, rupture or tear. Some types of silicone implant do not leak even when cut in half.

The chances any type of implant will rupture or leak is very slim (about 99% of patients have no problems).


The age at which a woman can get saline vs. silicone implants is regulated by the FDA. Breast development can continue until a woman reaches her late teens or early 20s. Changing or growing breast tissue can pose complications for women with breast implants, so the FDA minimum age for implants of any kind is 18 years of age. The FDA requires that women be at least 22 years old for silicone breast implants. But if you need reconstructive surgery, you can receive either implant at any age.


Silicone breast implants are usually more expensive than saline breast implants, while the cost of the surgery is the same.

Only a board certified plastic surgeon can help you determine the right type of implant for your needs, as well as fully inform you about any possible risks or side effects.

Plastic Surgeon in Charleston, SCDR. WIDENHOUSE

Dr. Brian G. Widenhouse, M.D. is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. He has been voted as one of The Best Doctors by his peers, and has a special interest in breast surgery, body contouring, and facial surgery. For more information about breast augmentation surgery, please contact us today. Dr. Widenhouse and his staff are dedicated to providing you with a positive experience every step of the way.


2683 Lake Park Drive
Charleston, SC 29406


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Daniel Island, SC 29492