Breast implants are used either for cosmetic improvement of the size and shape of the breast or for reconstructing the breast following surgical removal of the breast tissues due to cancer of the mammary glands.
These medical prosthetics are positioned behind the chest muscle or between the chest muscle and breast tissues to give the breast the desired size and shape.
Two main types of breast implants are commonly used for breast augmentation or reconstructive surgeries – silicone gel breast implants and saline filled breast implants. Each of these breast implants has their share of pros and cons.
Types of Breast Implants
Saline Filled Breast Implants
Saline breast implants comprise of saline-filled silicone elastometer shells filled with saline. The sterile salt water in the implant gives the breast the desired shape and size following the breast augmentation surgery.As the breasts continue to develop until the late teens, breast implant surgeries with saline filled breast implant is performed only on women who are at least 18 years of age. The volume of saline in the silicon shell determines the firmness of the implant.
Benefits of Saline Filled Breast Implants
Saline filled breast implants are less expensive than the silicone implants. However, there is hardly any variation in the cost of the surgical procedures with different types of breast implants. Therefore, by opting for breast implants with saline implants you may expect to save few hundred dollars.
Low Scarring Risk
Although the lower cost of the breast augmentation procedure is considered as one of the key reasons for the popularity of saline implants, the benefits of the procedure are not limited to its lower cost, which may be up to 25 percent less than the price of a silicone implant.
Numerous women and cosmetic surgeons prefer this implant as a smaller incision is required to place the implant in the desired position. The small incision reduces the risk of scarring. Through a small incision, the deflated silicone shell is inserted in the breast. It is then filled with the saline solution.
Easy Detection of Rupture
When a saline filled breast implant ruptures, the rupture can be easily detected. The implant deflates as the saline solution leaks from the ruptured implant. Reduction in the size of the breast is the obvious sign of a ruptured saline implant.
Adverse side effects do not occur when the non-toxic saline solution leaking from a ruptured implant is absorbed by the breast tissues.
Drawbacks of Saline Filled Breast Implants
Risk of Rippling
Saline implants are more likely to cause rippling if they are not covered with sufficient breast tissues or are not placed behind the chest muscles.
Women often complain that saline implants do not feel like natural breast.
Silicone Gel Breast Implants
Silicone gel breast implants comprise of a silicone shell elastometer filled with silicone gel.The silicone gel used in the recent and more advanced silicone breast implants is thicker than the older liquid silicone implant. Moreover, they are safer and less likely to rupture than the older silicone implants.
Advantages of Silicone Gel Breast Implants
Natural Breast Like Feeling
The silicone breast implants feel like natural breast. This is often recognized as the major reason for opting for breast augmentation with silicone implants.
Less Rippling Risk
Unlike saline breast implants, these implants are less likely to ripple.
Disadvantages of Silicone Gel Breast Implants
Silicone implants are more expensive than the saline-filled implants. You are required to spend several thousands of dollars for the breast augmentation procedure.
Larger incision is needed for inserting a full sized silicone gel filled breast implant in the breast. This implant surgery procedure increases the risk of scarring. Women whose scar heals easily are the ideal candidates for silicone implants. However, experienced cosmetic surgeons usually insert silicone implants through incisions that are ½ to ¼ inch larger than the incision made for inserting saline implants, which makes the scars barely noticeable.
Difficulty in Detecting Ruptures
A ruptured silicone breast implant can only be detected through MRI. Unlike saline filled breast implant, the silicone gel does not leak from the implant. It is cohesive. Therefore, it does not flow freely like saline solution. Hence, ruptured silicone implant does not affect the size of the breast, thereby making it difficult to identify the rupture through observation. Usually, rupture is suspected when a woman with ruptured silicone implant visits a doctor with chest trauma.
Other Types of Breast Implants
Hydrogel Breast Implant
Hydrogel breast implant comprises of a silicone elastometer shell filled with hydrogel. Hydorgel is a type of polymer that swells by absorbing water. However, it does not dissolve in water. This property of hydrogel makes it appropriate for filling the silicone shell of a breast implant.Although, definite risks of using hydrogel breast implant for breast augmentation procedures have not been identified, inadequate safety assessments of these implants by the manufacturers has reduced the use of hydrogel breast implant in implant surgeries.
Soya Bean Oil Filled Breast Implant
In soya bean oil filled breast implant, soya bean oil based lipid is used as the filler material. The shell of the breast implant is the same silicone elastometer shell used in other types of breast implants. Health experts fear that use of the lipid filler may increase the risk of developing breast cancer in the long term.The risk is especially high in case of ruptured breast implant. Inflammation of the breast is a possible side effect of using soya bean oil based breast implants. Until further reports of the safety of the breast implant are available, cosmetic surgeons do not recommend this implant for breast augmentation surgeries.
Titanium Coated Breast Implant
This breast implant comprises of a titanium coated silicone elastometer shell filled with silicone gel. The titanium coating can protect the implant from ruptures. It is also expected to reduce the risk of rejection and formation of scar tissues. As studies are still underway regarding the safety of these breast implants, cosmetic surgeons currently do not recommend titanium coated breast implants for breast augmentation.