While a recent informal user poll at www.implantinfo.com found that women interested in breast augmentation say they are more likely to get silicone breast implants, plastic surgery statistics show that last year women were equally divided between silicone and saline implants.
The poll, which received 481 responses from women who said they were planning to have breast augmentation surgery, found that 58 percent said they would choose silicone breast implants; 24 percent would choose saline breast implants; and 17 percent were undecided.
Statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) showed that in 2009, 50 percent of women in the U.S. who underwent breast augmentation received silicone implants and 50 percent saline.
However, comparing data from ASPS since the FDA approved silicone gel breast implants in November 2006 shows that silicone has been gaining on saline each year. In 2007, 65 percent of breast implants were saline; in 2008, 53 percent were saline; and last year silicone use matched saline use.
- Saline breast implants are filled with saline, usually at the time of surgery.
- Silicone breast implants are pre-filled with silicone gel a thick, sticky fluid that mimics the feel of human fat.
One advantage of saline implants that the surgeon can fill the implant during surgery, which allows for a smaller incision. The size of saline implants can also be changed over time without additional surgery. Saline implants feature small valves in which a doctor can insert a needle and either add or subtract the liquid to change the implant’s size.
Silicone implants have the advantage of looking and feeling more natural. Saline implants have sometimes been criticized for feeling hard, although improved surgical techniques have lessened these complaints.
Both types of breast implants are approved by the FDA, so they have been thoroughly researched and tested and reviewed by an independent panel of physicians for safety. Saline breast implants are available to women 18 and older for breast augmentation, and silicone implants are available to women 22 and older (both are available to women of any age for breast reconstruction).
Dr. Jonov is a cosmetic surgeon who specializes in plastic surgeries of the face, breast, and body at Seattle Plastic Surgery.