The Differences between Saline and Silicone Breast Implants

The Differences between Saline and Silicone Breast Implants

The Differences between Saline and Silicone Breast Implants

Mai Delacruz

Mai Delacruz
Personal Fitness Trainer & Health Coach

Updated on 1/30/2023

Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the world. It is designed to increase the size and fullness of the breasts, and can be a powerful tool for enhancing self-confidence and body image. One of the most important decisions you will make when considering breast augmentation is choosing the right type of implant. In this article, we will explore the differences between saline and silicone breast implants, and help you understand which option may be best for you.

What are Saline Breast Implants?

 Saline breast implants are filled with a sterile saltwater solution. They have a silicone shell and are filled with saline after the implant is placed into the breast pocket. They are less expensive than silicone implants and have been used for over 50 years. They are also less likely to cause complications if they rupture. If a saline implant ruptures, the saline will be harmlessly absorbed by the body and will lead to a deflated appearance.

What are Silicone Breast Implants?

Silicone breast implants are filled with a silicone gel. The gel feels more like natural breast tissue than saline and it is more cohesive than the liquid form of saline. They are more expensive than saline implants. They are also more likely to retain their shape and not cause rippling in the skin. However, if a silicone implant ruptures, it may not be immediately noticeable and can cause complications such as breast pain, swelling, or changes in breast shape.

Which Implants are Better for You?

Both saline and silicone implants have their own advantages and disadvantages. Saline implants are less expensive, and if they rupture, it is immediately noticeable and won't harm your body. However, silicone implants may feel more natural, look more natural and are less likely to ripple.

It is ultimately up to the patient and the surgeon to choose the best type of implant for the individual patient. Factors such as the patient's chest anatomy, their body type, and the size and shape of the desired breast augmentation should be considered when making the decision.

Implants made of silicone and saline

Gel made of silicone

Silicone gel is an inert polymer with no known allergies, sensitivities, or reactions in humans. In a cohesive matrix, the molecules are stuck together like gummy bears. The viscosity of silicone is higher than that of saline. As opposed to saline, it flows differently within its shell, creating a more natural feeling and appearance to the breast. According to FDA regulations, women must be at least 22 years old to receive silicone gel implants for breast augmentation.

Water containing sterile salt (saline)

The use of saline-filled implants for breast augmentation is available to all women over the age of 18. A board-certified plastic surgeon inserts a silicone shell into the body and fills it with saline fluid to the desired volume. The consistency of saline is similar to that of water. In very thin skin, folds of a saline implant may be visible under the skin - this is called "rippling" or "wrinkling."

Postoperatively, some saline implants can be adjusted via a remote injection port, which is commonly used in some types of breast reconstruction procedures to fine-tune the final implant volume over time.

Is there any improvement or change over the years in breast implants?

Since the early 1960s, silicone gel implants have gone through several generations of technological improvements. In the 1990s and early 2000s, saline-filled implants became popular as an alternative to silicone-filled implants. Silicone gel implants have undergone significant advancements over the last 20 years. Silicone breast implants are now implanted in the 7th and 8th generations. Compared to the previous generation, the newest silicone implants have a higher fill (96% instead of 85%) and a higher cross-linking of silicone molecules, increasing their stiffness or "cohesiveness."

Is there a difference between saline and silicone implants?

Implants filled with saline that are "baffled"

The term "baffling" refers to a structure within the implant that looks like layers on a shelf. In theory, these channels allow saline within the outer implant to flow in different directions, simulating the feeling of a silicone implant with a decreased incidence of rippling and sloshy liquid movement.

Implants made from silicone vary in their cohesiveness

Various degrees of stiffness are available in silicone gel breast implants. It is most common to use the liquid-like ones for routine breast augmentation because they are the softest and flow the best. Those silicone implants that are most cohesive tend to be stiff and hold their shape more firmly, which may be advantageous in post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. Breast augmentation patients who want silicone but have experienced rippling with the less cohesive devices can also choose an implant with an intermediate stiffness.

Consultation with the Surgeon

It's important to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon, discuss your desired outcome, and understand the pros and cons of each type of implant before making a decision. They will be able to help you understand which option is best for your individual needs, and guide you through the decision-making process.


Breast augmentation is a personal decision, and choosing the right type of implant is an important part of the process. Saline and silicone implants both have their own advantages and disadvantages. It's important to understand the differences between the two and to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon to make an informed decision. By considering your desired outcome, chest anatomy, and body type, you can select the option that is best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between saline and silicone breast implants?
Are saline implants safe?
Are silicone implants safe?
Which type of implant is more natural feeling?
Can I breastfeed after breast augmentation?
How long do breast implants last?