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Summary: Whether to rejuvenate your appearance, turn back the tide on aging, as part of a mommy makeover, or to improve on Mother Nature’s natural assets, women choose to undergo breast augmentation surgery for a wide variety of reasons. Regardless of the motivation, getting breast implants continues to be one of the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery, with demand growing each year.

When considering breast augmentation, an important consideration is which of the two main types of implant to use: saline or silicone breast implants. Here’s a closer look at the differences between the two, as well as a few ways you can decide which one may be best for you.

The Popular Choice

A saline implant is filled with a sterile saltwater solution, while silicone implants are filled with silicone gel—a thick, sticky fluid that is similar in look and feel to natural breast tissue. Saline implants are heavier and firmer than their silicone counterparts, while silicone implants are described as being more natural-looking.

Of the two types of implants, silicone is the more popular choice, in large part because silicone gel so closely helps create breast augmentation results that feel and look very much like the organic breast. And unlike saline breast implants, there is minimal incidence of rippling with silicone, so your results can look completely natural.

Implants and Incisions

Depending upon the type of implant chosen, the insertion procedure varies. A saline implant is empty when placed within the breast. Once it is securely situated in the breast pocket, the saline implant is then filled with saltwater. A silicone implant, however, is pre-filled with silicone gel. For this reason, the incision for a silicone implant usually needs to be larger than the incision made for a saline implant.

The most commonly performed incision for both types of implants is an inframammary incision. Hidden in the crease below the breast where the breast meets the chest wall, the inframammary incision is a popular choice among surgeons because it typically allows for easier access to the implant pocket during surgery.

Is One Implant Type Better?

As with any cosmetic surgical procedure, there are important factors to think about before making any final decisions. Proponents of saline implants note that the incision can be smaller than with silicone implants, and the cost is slightly lower. However, both implant types have their drawbacks, too. Very slender women with smaller breasts may not be the best candidates for saline, as the implants could be more easily detected through touch or feel in these patients.

In addition to implant material, an implant’s size, shape and position within the breast will also contribute to a natural-looking and feeling result, so all of these factors need to be taken into consideration as well. In some cases, the implant type may inform other decisions related to your breast augmentation too. For example, more incision options may be available with saline implants, since smaller incisions can be used.

Regardless of which type of implant a woman chooses, undergoing breast augmentation surgery is an important personal decision. Ideal candidates for the surgery are women in good health, who have realistic expectations of the both the procedure and outcome. More important than which type of implant is chosen, though, is your surgeon’s expertise. Choosing a skilled plastic surgeon is critical for the best breast augmentation results.

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