When considering breast implants, you’ll stumble across types; saline and silicone breast implants. So, what’s the difference between them? Which type of breast implant is right for you? Are there any risks and complications after a breast implant? your surgeon knows that you might have so many questions and concerns regarding breast implants, and our certified surgeons will give you answers.
Saline Vs. Silicone Breast Implants
Both saline and silicone breast implants have an outer silicone shell. The difference between the implants lies in the consistency and filler material.
Saline Breast Implants
They are filled with sterile salt water. First, your surgeon inserts the saline breast implants empty and then fills them once they’re set in place.
Who is an ideal candidate for saline breast implants? For breast augmentation, women of age 18 and older are ideal, and for breast reduction, women of any age are good candidates.
Silicone Breast Implants
Unlike saline breast implants, silicone implants are filled with silicone gel before insertion. The silicone gel is a thick, sticky fluid that gives the exact feel of human fat. Typically, silicone breast implants are more common among women since they look and feel more like their natural breast tissue.
Women age 22 and older can perform silicone breast implants for breast augmentation, and breast reduction, women of any age are suitable.
Before Getting Breast Implants
It’s important to understand what it means to have breast implants when considering breast augmentation or reduction. Although you aim to change your appearance, you must keep in mind:
- After a breast implant, your breasts will continue to change. As you gain or lose weight, it might change and affect how your breasts look and, therefore, affect your breast implant’s results. As a result, your surgeon might recommend additional surgery to correct these changes.
- Breast augmentation or reduction isn’t guaranteed to last forever. There’s a possibility that the breast implants might rupture. Within eight to 10 years after a breast implant, nearly 20% of women need to have their implants removed.
- Breast sagging won’t stop after having breast implants. With time, if your breasts start to sag and you notice changes, you can always talk to your surgeon to correct them. Your surgeon might find the need for you to get a breast lift along with breast augmentation to achieve your goals. This additional cosmetic surgery can be done later or at the same time.
- Mammograms can be more complicated than you’ve thought. Typically, routine mammograms require additional, specialized views if you have breast implants. When it’s for your mammogram, tell the radiologist where you have your breast implants.
- Insurance doesn’t always cover breast implants. Insurance will only cover breast implant surgery when it’s medically necessary. For instance, some patients need implant reduction for breast cancer after a mastectomy. However, if you’re getting a breast augmentation for cosmetic reasons, your insurance won’t cover it. So, you should be ready to handle any expenses for your breast augmentation, including future imaging tests or additional surgeries.
- Additional surgery after breast implant removal might be necessary. If you remove your implants, your surgeon will recommend a breast lift or other additional cosmetic surgery to help your breasts look better.
- Breast implants might affect breastfeeding. Some women can successfully breastfeed after breast implants, while others find it challenging.
- An MRI scan might be needed. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advises women with breast implants to undergo routine monitoring with MRI scans or ultrasound after five to six years, and then every two to three years thereafter. However, scientists recently found little data to support the necessity of routine screening unless you have symptoms.
How Is the Breast Implant Procedure Done?
If you’re considering saline-filled implants, the FDA requires that women be at least 18 years old to get breast augmentation since breasts continue to develop until they reach their late teens or early 20s. If you’re considering silicone implants, the FDA requires you t be at least 22 years old to receive breast implants.
Always look for a surgeon who has a lot of experience, which is easy to find. Certified cosmetic surgeons handle such surgeries with such care to minimize if not avoid any complications later on. Typically, our surgeons have at least five years of cosmetic surgical training and a minimum of two years of experience in plastic surgery.
We will schedule a consultation before your breast implant surgery for a medical evaluation. Also, it’s your chance to openly discuss your goals and concerns regarding your breast implants so your surgeon can set a realistic goal for you. Also, once you’ve decided to get breast implants, your surgeon will then ask you to stop taking certain medications and smoking for a few days or weeks before your surgery.
You may stay overnight in the hospital, or you can get breast augmentation done as outpatient surgery.
Normally, it takes one to two hours to complete breast implants. You will experience a pain-free surgery since you’ll be under the effect of general anesthesia, during which you will be “asleep.”
After your surgeon evaluates your body and determines the type of implant, and how much enlargement you’ll need, he or she will make an incision under your arms, under your breasts, or around your nipples.
Then, your surgeon inserts the breast implant into a pocket below or above your breast muscle. Finally, the surgeon closes the cuts with surgical tape or sutures after the implant is in place.
Recovery After Breast Implantation
After surgery, your cosmetic surgeon will cover your breasts with gauze. Also, you may have drainage tubes to prevent the accumulation of excess fluids, which will be removed in a few days. For better recovery, it’s best if you wear a surgical bra as you heal.
You’ll need to rest and be gentle with your body for a couple of days after your breast implant surgery. So, you should wait for at least six weeks after surgery to do any heavy lifting after getting your implants.
Your surgeon might prescribe you OTC painkillers, like acetaminophen, to help relieve discomfort.
It’s normal for women to experience mild swelling in the area where the breast implant was done. Over time and with proper recovery, the swelling should ease, and the surgical scars fade.
Maintaining Your Breast Implants
It’s an unfortunate fact that breast implants don’t last a lifetime. Sadly, if you experience any complications, you may need to replace the implants or if the shape and size of your breasts change as you age.
Three years after the implant surgery, women with silicone gel-filled implants will need to get an MRI scan. Then, every two years, they’ll need to get MRI scans to check for any possible silent rupture. Your surgeon will remove or replace your implants if your implants rupture.
A mammogram becomes more challenging to get when you have breast implants. As an alternative, special X-ray views can be made. There is a minor probability that breast implants can cause breast cancer. Also, some women with breast implants may find it challenging to breastfeed.
Risks of Breast Implants
silicone and saline breast implants have very similar risks, including:
- Breast pain
- Changes in sensation in the breasts and nipples
- Scar tissue forming and hardening in the area around the implant
- Problems with the implants’ size or shape (for instance, the breasts may be asymmetrical)
- AALCL (Associated Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma) is rare but may be linked to textured implants
BIA-ALCL (breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma) is rare to occur with certain breast implants. Simply, it’s a type of cancer associated with textured silicone and polyurethane outer shells that seem to have the highest risk. Even though BIA-ALCL occurs in the breast tissue, it isn’t breast cancer. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy may be the answer for treatment.
For a surgeon to correct any of these complications, additional surgery may be the solution where the surgeon removes or replaces the implants.
Breast Implants in A Nutshell
Your surgeon will determine the best type of implant depending on your body type, breast anatomy, and other factors. Ultimately, however, your surgeon will let you choose between saline and silicone after recommending the best option for you.
Breast Implants FAQs
What Happens If An Implant Ruptures?
The solution differs depending on the type of breast implant (saline or silicone), then your surgeon will remove or replace the implant for correction.
Ruptured silicone implant
You might not even notice at all that your silicone breast implant ruptures or maybe notice it after a while. How? Any free silicone tends to remain trapped in the capsule of fibrous tissue that forms around the breast implant. Surgeons call it a silent rupture.
Leaking or rupture of silicone gel isn’t believed to cause health complications, like reproductive problems, breast cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis. Eventually, a ruptured silicone breast implant might cause breast thickening, breast pain, or alter the breast’s shape or change in the contour.
Your doctor will recommend the surgical removal of the breast implant. Before removing the ruptured breast implant, your surgeon will ask you if you want a new implant that will be inserted simultaneously.
Ruptured saline implant
The implant will deflate if your saline breast implant ruptures, causing changes in the size and shape of the affected breast.
Your body will respond to the rupture by absorbing the leaking saline solution without health complications. However, for safety, you’ll need surgery to remove the silicone shell. You can always request a new implant that your surgeon will insert simultaneously.
Is the safety of my breast implants actively monitored?
Saline and silicone breast implants are safe for breast augmentation and breast reduction. Scientific research is ongoing to determine the safety and effectiveness of both types of breast implants.
What are breast implants filled with?
Traditionally, women believe implants are filled with silicone gel in silicone breast implants or saline water in saline breast implants. Now, cosmetic surgeons added a third type called Structured Ideal implants. Typically, Structured Ideal implants are filled with saline and have internal structural integrity that makes them feel and look more natural.
Will breast implants last forever?
Unfortunately, breast implants don’t last a lifetime. Still, a broken implant is a very uncommon reason to revise. If a woman wants to change her breasts’ size, or her body develops scar tissue around the implant, or her breasts start to sage because of aging and gravity, your surgeon will consider performing additional surgery.
It’s a sad yet true fact that your breasts change with age. The FDA reports that within ten years—one in five women who get breast implants for cosmetic reasons will have them removed. Also, women who get breast implants after breast cancer have higher removal rates.
Can I breastfeed with breast implants?
While women are warned that they may lose their breastfeeding ability, most women don’t have any difficulty breastfeeding after implant surgery. In most cases, the surgical teams have never seen anyone unable to breastfeed.
Also, breastfeeding doesn’t cause breast sagging for women with breast implants, so you shouldn’t worry. In 2013, a study was published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal of almost 120 breastfeeding mothers with breast implants who did not end up with sagging breasts. Fortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, silicone breast implants don’t affect breast milk.
Do breast implants cause weight gain?
Well, it does but probably not in the way you are imagining. Typically, breast implants do weigh something that will add to your overall weight. Most women request 300 and 400 grams per implant. Every 454 grams is one pound, so you’ll probably add one to two pounds of weight in the breast area.
Are implants the only way to get bigger breasts?
No. however, it’s the most popular and safe way to get bigger breasts. If you’re looking for ways to enhance your breasts without implants, you can refer to fat grafting to the breast. Also, breast auto augmentation is another way where your surgeon removes small breast tissue from the breast’s lower part and tucks it underneath the rest of your breast tissue. Typically, your surgeon will combine it with a breast lift surgery.
Does it hurt when my skin stretches?
After placing the breast implant in the breast pocket, it stretches the skin. However, women don’t attribute their discomfort to skin stretching after surgery. Why? Their skin relaxes as a response to placing stress on it, which relieves most pain. If your surgeon inserts your breast implants under the muscle, the surgery requires cutting the pecs, which hurts more than skin stretching.
What if my implants are too small or too big?
Before surgery, your surgeon will properly and accurately choose the correct breast implant, not during and not after surgery. We’ll advise you to get a sports bra during your first consultation, where your surgeon will place an implant sample in it so you can see what looks best. Also, there’s computer software that will allow you to see and try various-sized implants and how your breasts will look like.
Do breast implants cause cancer?
Previously, some headlines linked certain breast implants to ALCL, which is a rare type of cancer (anaplastic large-cell lymphoma). However, ALCL is not a form of breast cancer; it’s a type of cancer associated with textured implants.
The best research suggests that implants don’t cause ALCL. Some scientists say it’s possibly a bacteria that can hide in the texturing. For safety, your surgeon must use an antibiotic during surgery to kill any bacteria.
Don’t panic; it is an extraordinarily rare occurrence.
Will breast implants obscure cancer on mammograms?
There shouldn’t be any obstruction if your surgeon places the soft breast implants behind the muscle. However, additional views may be necessary. You may get an ultrasound or MRI if the images aren’t clear. It’s always recommended to choose a facility that sees women with breast implants regularly. Finally, you should always let the radiologist know that you have breast implants.