Should I Feel Strange About Getting Saline Implants?
by Beauty Blogger Emmy Owens
If you were ever the kid who wanted vanilla ice cream when all of your friends chose chocolate, you might understand how I feel about getting saline breast implants. Remember the raised eyebrows, the snickering behind your back?
“Are you sure?” the other girls asked. “You’ll probably regret it.”
I heard versions of those comments countless times as I discussed my plans to get saline implants with my friends. Even many of the plastic surgeons I consulted with tried steering me toward choosing silicone implants, even as they told me that the choice was ultimately mine.
There’s little doubt that I’m somewhat of an outlier when it comes to my choice of breast implant material. Statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® show that about 3 out every 4 women who underwent breast augmentation surgery in 2014 opted for implants filled with silicone, and it’s common for surgeons to report that the difference is even wider at their practices. It’s pretty clear that saline breast implants appear to be on the endangered device list.
When you consider that fewer than 10 years ago, silicone implants weren’t even available in the U.S., the turnaround is pretty remarkable. Perhaps a brief history lesson is in order. Concerns about the safety of silicone implants prompted the FDA to order them off the market in 1992. After years of comprehensive studies that showed those safety concerns were unfounded, the FDA reversed course and approved the use of silicone in 2006.
Initially, however, women continued choosing saline breast implants. In 2007, the ASPS reported that 65% of breast augmentation patients selected saline implants. By 2009, the split was 50-50, according to the organization’s statistics. The trend toward silicone implants has continued for the past 5 years and shows no signs of reversing.
I understand the popularity of silicone gel implants.
“Silicone breast implant technology is continually being improved to enhance safety and provide results that look and feel more natural,” according to the website of Cosmetic Surgery Associates of New York. These “gummy bear” breast implants, the Westchester practice added, are soft but solid just like the candy.
I mean, how can you not choose breast implants called gummy bears?
The surgeons I consulted with said the vast majority of their patients preferred the way these silicone implants felt and looked. And yet, armed with all the information I could possibly get regarding both types of implants, I still decided to go with saline.
One reason is that I wanted my incisions made in the armpit area, rather than on the breasts. One of the advantages of saline implants is that they aren’t filled until after they are inserted, which means the incision can be tiny. An armpit incision requires the surgeon to create a small tunnel to the breast, meaning it’s really not feasible to insert a pre-filled silicone implant unless it’s pretty small.
Another advantage of saline implants is that if one of them ruptures — not likely, but still possible — you know immediately. The newer silicone implants retain their form even if there’s a crack or rupture (think of a gummy bear candy cut in half).
There’s really no danger posed by a silicone implant rupturing, but, according to the Mayo Clinic, “A ruptured silicone breast implant might eventually cause breast pain or changes in the contour or shape of the breast.”
Plus, I wanted to know if there was anything amiss with one of my implants. Because saline implants are filled with a saltwater solution that’s very similar to the fluid in your body, it’s absorbed naturally if there’s a leak, and you know right away.
When it came time to make my decision, I decided to buck the trend. My surgeon has produced beautiful results using saline implants and agrees they could work well for me. The best advice I can give anyone considering getting breast implants is to listen to your instincts when making decisions about the procedure — from your choice of a board-certified plastic surgeon to the size and type of implants.