Saline vs. Silicone: Which Implants are Right for You?

Saline or silicone? It’s one of the most crucial choices you have to make if you’re considering breast augmentation. Saline and silicone are the two fillings used for breast implants, and while both are safe and reliable materials, they have different properties that make them ideal for different types of patients. Not sure which of these remarkable substances is right for you? Take a minute to learn all about what makes them different.

What Are Saline Implants

Saline implants are filled with saline, a salt water solution that’s safely absorbed by the body. Saline is ubiquitous in the world of medicine—most people know of saline as the solution used in IVs. As implants, they were introduced in as early as 1964, and in 1992 when silicone implants were removed from the market, saline implants became the dominant implant filling in the plastic surgery industry.

Why Saline Implants

Saline implants are known for their reliability, convenience, and their safety as an osmotic solution. Some women like that high margin of safety that saline implants have. They also like that they can immediately tell if saline implants have ruptured: when a saline implant tears, it merely deflates, and the saline implant is safely absorbed by the body.

Another benefit of saline implants is that they can be filled once the implant has been placed in the body. That means that the saline implant can be inserted through a much smaller incision and then inflated to the surgeon and the patient’s discretion. It allows the surgeon to see just how the implant will look under the breast tissue and then he’ll adjust accordingly.

One type of incision that some women prefer is the transaxillary incision, a type of incision that’s hidden in the armpit. It’s used exclusively for saline implants because the implant needs to be deflated when it’s placed through the armpit.

What Are Silicone Implants

Silicone implants are implants filled with a soft, silicone gel. One of the first breast implants ever made was made with a silicone gel filling. Since then, there have been multiple iterations of silicone implants that differ in consistency. Today, patients can choose from a variety of consistencies for their silicone implants: silicone implants can range from the fluid-like to thicker, more viscous consistencies. The more fluid the silicone implant is, the softer the implant usually is.

Why Silicone Implants

One of silicone implants’ biggest benefits is the fact that it moves and feels like natural tissue. It’s a popular implant for women that value subtle, natural-looking results. One type of silicone implant, called form stable implants, is well-regarded because of its highly cohesive gel; when form stable implants are ruptured, the gel will stick together rather than bleed into the body.

One thing to consider is that silicone implants come pre-filled; that means that surgeons will need a larger incision to insert the implants, so the typical incision used for silicone implants is the inframammary incision, the incision that’s hidden underneath the breast crease.

Women will also have difficulty detecting if a silicone breast implant has ruptured, so it’s highly recommended that patients have an MRI every few years or so.


Both silicone and saline implants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Round, teardrop, high profile, low profile—all of these different elements can be applied to both fillings. With some exceptions, silicone and saline implants can also be inserted using the same kinds of incisions. They can also be both placed under and over the chest muscle.

There’s no magic combination that will work on all women, but that’s why it’s crucial that you find the right surgeon to help you find the perfect way to customize your breast augmentation.

There is some discussion about whether saline or silicone implants are more likely to rupture, but by and large modern implants are incredibly durable and resilient. There are multiple other factors, like the texture of the implant, that might increase the risk of rupture, but it will really depend on the patient.

There’s so much more to learn about saline and silicone implants, and the best person to teach you is a board-certified plastic surgeon that has years of experience with plastic surgery. The Maryland Institute of Plastic Surgery is proud to be led by a team of expert plastic surgeons, and they’re more than happy to guide you through your many options for breast augmentation. All you have to do is contact our offices to schedule a consultation.