Saline implants (which constitute a silicone shell filled with a saltwater solution) have been in use for decades to give women a breast size and volume that is in line with their aesthetic alternatives. When the FDA requested implant manufacturers to provide evidence that silicone breast implants were safe and effective in 1991, saline-filled implants were popularly marketed and used as an alternative. Their popularity however diminished when the FDA finally approved silicone implants in November 2006.
Who is a good candidate for saline implants?
Saline implants are FDA approved for use in women over 18 years of age. In addition to these regulatory requirements, plastic surgeons require that patients are physically and mentally healthy before they conduct a breast augmentation using this type of implant. It is important to note that during surgery, these implants are inserted empty then later filled to the desired volume. For this reason, they may be a preferable option for women who are concerned about elongated scarring.
Pros of saline implants
Saline-filled breast implants offer unique advantages compared to other types of implants:
- Require smaller incisions because they are inserted empty
- Easier to adjust to the desired size and volume (customizable volume)
- Suitable for women who are below 22 years of age
- Easy to know when the implant has leaked because the woman’s body will safely absorb the sterile solution and visible deflation will be evident.
- Easier to replace compared to silicone implants
- Less expensive than other types of implants
Cons of saline implants
- More prone to rippling and wrinkling
- Tend to look and feel less natural compared to silicone implants
Maintenance of saline implants
Maintenance of saline breast implants is much easier compared to other types of implants. For instance, in the case of a leakage, the sterile solution contained within the implant pocket is safely absorbed by the body. This results in a visible deflation that patients can then report to their plastic surgeon. This is unlike silicone implants that require periodic MRI scans to rule out leakage. In case they need to be removed or replaced, the process is often more straightforward compared to silicone implants.