Today's chapter is about saline breast implants.
Prior to 2006, saline implants were the most commonly used implant in the U.S. Now, with FDA re-approval of the silicone gel implants, that figure has fallen significantly, down to about 20% in our practice.
Here are the more common reasons that my patients give for picking a saline-filled breast implant.
. Saline implants aren't as expensive.
. For women with major breast asymmetry issues, the adjustability of the size of a saline implant at the time of surgery can be helpful to fine-tune the correction of volume differences between the two breasts. Essentially, we can "put a little more" on the smaller side. With silicone gel implants, the implants are not adjustable - so one has to go to the next size implant, a difference of 25-30 cc.
3. No need for follow-up scans
. When a saline implant leaks, the saline is simply absorbed by the body. The implant deflates quickly - and making the diagnosis of an implant deflation is easy, without requiring fancy diagnostic tests. There are no recommendations for follow-up MRI scans, as there are with the gel filled implants.
4. Lingering anxiety about silicone gel. Despite the large number of carefully performed, large-scale scientific studies disproving many of the "urban legends" about health issues and silicone, some women are just more psychologically comfortable with the saline option.
5. Age. If you are younger than 22 years old, silicone gel implants may not be available under the FDA guidelines, unless you happen to have other issues, like rib cage asymmetry, scoliosis, and so forth.
6. Wanting the "very rounded" look. This can be achieved, if desired, by over-inflation of a saline implant, creating a more spherical shape and increased upper breast fullness.
Disadvantages of saline implants:
These were discussed in the previous blog chapter, during the discussion of silicone gel implants. The main issues are:
- a less realistic "feel" to the breast
- higher percentage of ripple / wrinkle issues, particularly in slender women.
While some surgeons will try to over-fill the implant in an attempt to reduce ripples, that may cause a different set of problems, such as creating excessive roundness of the upper breast, causing excessive firmness, or creating tension bands around the edge of the implant. Over-filling also potentially voids the manufacturer's warranty.
The choice of implant - the size, the shape, and the type of fill - are all issues that we discuss at the time of a consultation. Hopefully, the information in this blog will help you to become a more "informed patient" prior to your consultation and surgery, and will answer some preliminary questions for you.