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Saline vs. Silicone: Like Choosing Between a Great Car or a Sexy Car?


The debate rages on over saline vs silicone about which is truly the best breast implant option.

After the FDA pulled silicone breast implants from the market in 1991, it seemed as though the question of whether silicone or saline was preferable would be resolved once and for all. However, after fourteen years of careful and rigorous study involving numerous clinical trials and fierce controversy, the FDA approved silicone implants in 2006 and they were back on the market.

woman with a car

Thus, the debate continues - are silicone or saline implants the best answer for women seeking breast lifts, augmentation or reconstruction? Both silicone and saline have their own series of advantages and disadvantages. Silicone breast implants can have a softer, more natural feel than saline implants. However, silicone implants are more prone to complications such as the formation of scar tissue and capsular contracture.

When scar tissue forms or capsular contracture occurs, a hardened appearance can result. At times, additional surgery may be required. Furthermore, silicone implants only have a nine year warranty from manufacturers, so patients generally need to have the implants replaced anywhere between nine to twelve years after the original implantation.

Despite these downsides to silicone, patients who have had both saline and silicone implants seem to prefer the silicone implants over the saline when there are no problems with capsular contraction, according to Dr. Marc Lussier, the medical director of Town Center Surgery in Valencia, California.

Dr. Lussier has been performing breast enlargement using both silicone and saline for women throughout Bakersfield, California. Lussier states that, in general, the ratio of silicone or saline implant procedures is about even. However, he says that currently, the demand for silicone is increasing as more women begin to understand that it is safe and decide that they prefer the more natural appearance that can result.

Lussier warns that although patients may tend to prefer silicone, women need to understand the different risks. He also cautions that women who have silicone implants should plan to get an MRI after nine years to determine whether there is a need for replacement.

Dr. Lussier tends to use saline in younger women who have not yet had children. He performs both augmentations and lifts, and believes that in every situation, patients should have detailed conversations with their surgeons to explore all their options and ask all their questions.

Lussier reports that patients seem satisfied with both saline and silicone. However, he reports that "'Silicone implants' are an excellent and perhaps better option, but they are more costly, and have a higher maintenance cost. In automotive terms, it is the difference between a nice car and a sexy sports car. The latter is more expensive to drive, but it's more fun."