A lot of women choose to undergo breast augmentation for various reasons. Some women may choose to have breast augmentation because they feel that it will enhance their appearance, while others choose to have it either for reconstructive purposes, or for very personal reasons. Breast augmentation is quite popular, and even though breast implants have attracted such controversies, the number of people undergoing the procedure is steadily growing over the years.

Saline and silicone implants are the two types of implants approved by the FDA in the United States. Both saline and silicone implants are actually covered by a silicone outer shell, however the difference lies on what is inside each type of implant. Saline implants are filled with saline, while silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel. Silicone gel implants can be likened to female breast tissue because it has viscosity, thus it looks and feels like real breast tissue. Saline implants on the other hand, are firm and not compressible, and it has also been criticized for looking unnatural. However, improved surgical techniques have lessened these complaints.

When you compare both implants in terms of safety, recent studies have shown that there are no significant differences on both types of implants. But each type of implant has its corresponding advantages and disadvantages. Breast implants are at risk for ruptures but when a saline implant ruptures, it can be easier to detect because the shape of the breast can rapidly change over a span of days. Saline, or salt water that has leaked from the implant, can also be easily and safely absorbed by the body.

A ruptured silicone implant on the other hand, is more difficult to notice and detect. Once the implant breaks, the silicone can leak and spread outside the breasts, and into distant lymph nodes. Silicone gel implant ruptures may also not be detected through mammogram alone, and a MRI or magnetic resonance imaging is still needed to identify the rupture. Through MRI, doctors can also check whether silicone has leaked outside of the scar tissue or not.

Although a silicone leak may sound alarming, studies have not shown that silicone leaks can lead to increased risk of disease. However, your doctor will still recommend the removal of the implant, as well as any loose silicone. Since a rupture of a silicone implant may not present any signs or symptoms, the FDA recommends that women with these implants need to get a MRI, three years after the operation. After that, a woman should get a MRI once every two years. The cost of having these diagnostic tests over the years should be considered because your insurance may not cover the expenses.

Some people may also be concerned of the platinum content of silicone implants. However, studies have not found platinum content in breast implants to pose any health risks. With regards to the surgery involved, saline implants require only a small incision because the implants are filled only after they are implanted. Silicone implants on the other hand, need a bigger incision during surgery because they are pre-filled. After implantation, many saline implants can also be adjusted according to a woman’s preference, without any additional surgery. To adjust the size of a saline implant, a doctor can just insert a needle to aspirate, or put in more fluid depending on the desired outcome.

The age restrictions on both implants are also different, but if the purpose of the operation is reconstructive, women at any age are allowed to get either of the two kinds. For the purpose of augmentation, saline implants are approved for women 18 years old and above, while silicone implants are approved only when a woman reaches 22 years of age. These restrictions are made, with the consideration of the different risks, associated with each type of implant. Ultimately, your doctor is your best ally in arriving at the decision on which implant is best for you.

Before you decide to have breast augmentation, it is best that you discuss thoroughly with your doctor the factors on what it means to have breast implants, and how it can affect your future plans. If later on you decide to have children, you may need to think twice before having the procedure done. There are studies that have shown that women with implants may have difficulty with breastfeeding, or they may even be unable to breastfeed. A common problem is the lack of milk supply among women with implants. Discuss with your doctor your concerns so that you can have an informed choice.

You also need to discuss risks such as implant rupture, the need for more surgery, capsular contracture, breast pain, and decreased sensation of the breasts and nipples. In order to make a sound decision, you need to be fully aware of the health risks involved. Let your doctor know your concerns so that he will address your issues accordingly. Knowing what you are getting yourself into is a good way of ensuring that you are in it for the long run.