Breast augmentation surgery is one of the most requested plastic surgery procedures. Women of all ages schedule consultations with their doctors each year to ask if having breast implant surgery is the right answer for them. In most cases, it is. However once approved for surgery, each patient will have to choose as to the type of breast implant that they want in their own body.
Before you choose what type of implant you want, it’s imperative to have a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. When patients visit Dr. Vitenas at the Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery for a consultation, their current and pre-existing health conditions are discussed at length. At that point, if you are approved for upcoming surgery, both types of implants will be offered if advisable for your body type.
Most prospective patients are offered a choice between saline solution filled and silicone gel-filled breast implants. While these two types of implants are filled with different substances, both of them are surrounded by a shell made from silicone materials. So the difference is what the implants contain, not what material covers them.
Silicone breast implants
While there were issues decades ago with silicone breast implants, these implants have been reformulated and redesigned. This redesign has led silicone breast implants to be FDA approved as safe for adult patients beginning at the age of 22. The silicone gel filling is thick and less likely to leak than water-filled implants. Because the consistency of the gel is soft and pliable, a silicone breast implant is more likely to mimic the texture of natural breast tissue.
Saline breast implants
These implants are empty and remain unfilled until they are placed in the body. The surgeon inserts the saline implant and then fills it with a sterile saline solution. Once it is filled to the appropriate size, the plastic surgeon seals the implant and it is put in place.
Saline implants are known to be safe and are approved by the FDA for breast augmentation surgery on adults eighteen or older for cosmetic or breast reconstruction. They are also approved for cosmetic breast augmentation and breast reconstruction.
Do breast implants pose any risk to patients?
Both silicone and saline-filled breast implants have certain post-surgical risks. What is necessary to note, is that these issues can be corrected with additional surgery. At that time they can be either corrected surgically or removed completely as required. Patients need to contact their plastic surgeon if they sense abnormalities, pain or issues that require medical opinion. Possible risks include:
- Pain in one or both breasts
- Leakage of saline or silicone gel
- Breast implant that feels broken or ruptured
- Implants that have hardened and may be distorted by capsular contracture
- Incisions that have not healed completely or appear infected
- A change in nipple sensation, appearance or sensitivity
What if my breast implant ruptures?
If a saline implant ruptures, the shape of the breast deflates. A plastic surgeon will need to remove the original silicone shell and replace it with a new implant. This implant will then be refilled with saline. However, the leaked saline solution poses no risk to the human body.
If a silicone breast implant ruptures, the scenario is a bit different. First, the patient may not notice, as the contour of the breast will not immediately change. If the silicone begins to leak from the implant, the wearer may experience pain or hardening of the breast. The shape of the breast might change in time. A plastic surgeon can remove the implant and implant a new one as per the wishes of the patient.
Are breast implants safe?
Both saline and silicone implants have been approved by the FDA as safe. Patients should remember that medical research is always ongoing. If issues are found, the FDA may issue new guidelines or recommendations for physicians to follow. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Vitenas will always closely follow and inform his patients of the necessary information as it occurs.
As a prospective breast implant patient, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Silicone and saline implants generally last between eight to ten years
- Complications may occur with both types of implants, requiring additional surgery
- Weight gain and loss can change the appearance of your breasts
- Tell your doctor when having a mammogram, as radiology of the breast is more complicated
- Your doctor may suggest that you have an MRI scan as part of your breast cancer screening
- Breastfeeding may not be possible after breast augmentation surgery
- Implants are usually only covered by insurance for breast reconstruction
- Be prepared to cover the full expense if your surgery is solely for cosmetic reasons
Which type of implant is right for me?
This will ultimately be determined during your pre-surgical consultation with the doctor. A plastic surgeon will make a recommendation based on an individual patient and the anatomy of their breasts. A patient’s physique, health, and lifestyle also play a part. If there are questions about that type of implant, the doctor will continue the discussion or suggest further options. But the fact remains that both silicone and saline implants are safe.
Dr. Vitenas’ Houston breast implants page contains a ton of information including recovery and surgical process, as well as before-and-after pictures you can view to give you a better idea of how the implants may look on your own body. Dr. Paul Vitenas has over thirty years of experience as a board-certified plastic surgeon and his website also contains information on a myriad of rejuvenation techniques.
You can contact Dr. Vitenas and his team on their website or via phone, if you prefer, at 281-484-0088 to schedule an appointment.