When it comes to breast implants, there are many different options plastic surgeons can choose from in order to provide a woman with her desired look. The three most common types of breast implants are silicone, saline and cohesive silicone. While all three have their own pros and cons, they all have similar lifespan and longevity. Monarch Plastic Surgeon Dr. Paul Leahy highlights a few of the key differences to help select the perfect implant.
Dr. Leahy said, “Likely, the most commonly used implant in the United States, silicone gel implants, are ideal for recreating the look and feel of natural breast tissues only with a little bit of added volume.” The devices feature a shell that is smooth and soft to the touch, and can be filled with a wide range of sizes and qualities depending on the overall goal of the patient. Silicone gel implants arrive pre-filled direct from the factory, so no filling is performed during the surgery itself.
A far less common type of implant, the saline implant, is filled with saltwater. The shells of both silicone gel and saline implants are made of a similar material, but the difference lies in what they are filled with. Although the saline-filled implants are filled with a liquid, they are extremely durable. In addition, the other key difference with a saline implant is that it is filled during the surgical procedure. “Once the device is placed in the pocket we create for the implant, it is filled during surgery by adding sterile saline,” Dr. Leahy explained.
One reason silicone gel implants are so popular is because the saline-filled implants tend to have a little bit more scalloping or rippling at the edges. Dr. Leahy said this is simply because of the nature of the difference in material between saline and a silicone gel, which is softer and has less wrinkles. It’s important to remember that neither option is intended to be a lifelong solution. “Implants need to be replaced at some point. The timing varies by patient, but we have several methods of monitoring the implants over time. We like to see our patients on an annual basis to conduct proper checkups and make sure everything is functioning properly,” he said.
The third option for breast implants, which has been available for a few years in United States, is a cohesive silicone implant. This implant more closely resembles a rubber material, and some people refer to cohesive silicone implants as “gummy bear” implants because of their unique consistency. Dr. Leahy explains, “These are a great option particularly for breast cancer survivors who have undergone a mastectomy and are hoping to recreate a breast completely.” They take on a teardrop shape, the material is more firm to the touch and the implant is a little bit less noticeable under the skin.
For petite women, plastic surgeon Dr. Keith Hodge recommends extra high profile implants. “It allows for more volume without getting too wide. It also gives a full upper breast which looks very pretty,” he said. Interested in learning more about breast implants, lifts and augmentation procedures? Schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons who can answer all of your questions.