What are the differences between breast implant types?

The most popular cosmetic surgery procedure, breast augmentation can reshape your breasts and improve your self-confidence. If you’ve been thinking about undergoing this surgery, you’re probably wondering which implant type is best for you – saline or silicone gel. Here are the differences between the two.


Both saline and silicone gel implants have silicone shells, but one of the biggest advantages to saline implants is the fact that they start out empty and then are filled once in place in the breast pocket. This results in a smaller incision line and greater flexibility when it comes to sizing. Patients who choose saline implants want the smallest incisions possible or have enough breast tissue to cover the implant.

Should the implant rupture, you will know it’s leaking because it deflates quickly. The body naturally absorbs the saline solution. Saline is also appropriate for patients age 18 years or older, or any age if undergoing breast reconstruction.


Silicone gel implants are pre-filled, which means they will require slightly larger incisions than saline implants. The biggest advantage to silicone gel is the fact that these implants feel most like the natural breast, whereas saline is firmer. Silicone implants are ideal for women who have very little breast tissue or want to minimize rippling.

Silicone gel implants are made of cohesive medical-grade silicone, which means that if the implant leaks, you may not notice, which is one disadvantage to this implant. The leak or rupture may only be detected on imaging such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Silicone gel is appropriate for patients 22 years of age or older, or any age if undergoing breast reconstruction.

The cost of each implant type varies, with saline implants costing about $1,000 less than silicone gel. During your consultation, you will discuss implant type, size, your existing breast tissue, chest wall anatomy, breast skin and other factors that will weigh in your decision on which implant is best for you. If you are interested in getting a breast augmentation and live in the Washington, D.C., area, call our office at 202-785-4187 to schedule a consultation.


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