What You Should Know about Silicone Breast Implants
By Constance M. Barone, M.D. on April 15, 2014
The decisions you make regarding your breast augmentation have a fundamental impact on your lasting satisfaction. The implant material, for instance, affects the appearance of breasts, as well as their chances of developing complications and requiring revision surgery. Silicone gel and saline solution each have their benefits, which should be carefully weighed against each other prior to augmentation. Furthermore, every patient’s body is different, meaning the pros and cons of each choice are not the same for everyone.
As a courtesy to our San Antonio patients, we offer the following information on silicone implants. By considering how silicone will affect your own augmentation, you will be able to make a more informed decision when the time comes.
Benefits of Silicone Implants
When choosing between silicone-filled and saline-filled implants, the first factor to arise is aesthetic quality. Because silicone gel has a consistency that is similar to fat tissue, it tends to result in augmentations that look and feel more natural. Not only is the shape of the breast better preserved, but the texture remains soft and malleable. Saline, on the other hand, is more likely to produce breasts that are firmer and more spherical. This difference is especially seen in breasts that are naturally small or augmentations with a dramatic upgrade in size. Since the implant accounts for a larger percentage of the breast’s overall size and shape in such cases, the aesthetics of silicone vs. saline are even more pronounced.
Silicone can provide further cosmetic benefits through the option of teardrop shaped implants. As the name suggests, the shells of these implants are formed in relation to a breast’s natural contours. This further allows silicone-filled implants to enhance breasts without significantly altering their shape.
Drawbacks of Silicone Implants
Whereas silicone is generally regarded as superior in aesthetics, it suffers from an increased risk of complications. Namely, silicone-filled implants are more likely to result in:
- Capsular contracture: Both saline and silicone implants can result in capsular contracture - the continued formation of hard scar tissue around an implant, resulting in discomfort and possible rupture. However, the rate of capsular contracture is slightly higher for silicone.
- Silent rupture: When a saline implant ruptures, it is noticed almost immediately, and the saline is simply absorbed by the body. Silicone ruptures can be difficult to detect due to a more gradual leak, and because silicone gel remains intact, it may need to be surgically removed after traveling to other parts of the body. To prevent this complication, it is recommended that patients with silicone implants get an MRI once every other year to detect any ruptures present.
- Problems with teardrop implants: If a silicone implant is teardrop shaped, it has the potential to rotate within the breast, resulting in an odd appearance. For this reason, such implants are also textured to limit movement. In turn, however, textured implants are more likely to result in a skin irregularity known as rippling.
Additionally, silicone implants have to be filled before insertion. This means the surgical incisions must be large enough to accommodate them. Aside from larger scars, this may rule out the option of having periareolar incisions around the nipples.
Is Silicone Worth It?
When examining the cosmetic advantages of silicone gel vs. the increased risks, patients may ask whether the trade-off is worth it. But the answer depends largely on a woman’s individual body and preferences for treatment. For example, women with smaller natural breasts may care more about the visual qualities of silicone, whereas women with large breasts will not be impacted as much by the implant filler type. Additionally, some risks can be mitigated through other means, such as placement of the implants below the muscles. Also known as sub-pectoral placement, this decreases the risk of capsular contracture. Ultimately, it is up to you to speak with your doctor and gain a more personalized understanding of which implant type can best accommodate your needs.
Speak with Dr. Barone
Meet with Dr. Barone at her plastic surgery practice to discuss the details of your potential breast augmentation. Whether you are just beginning to consider augmentation or are ironing out the final details of your procedure, the input of a highly qualified professional is essential. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.
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