Breast Implant Manufacturing

The silicone vs. saline breast implant debate is so last century.

These days there’s a wealth of information out there, but it pays to know where to get the most reliable scoop on silicone and saline breast implants – not to mention the latest developments in breast augmentation and breast reconstruction surgeries.

One of our goals is to let you enjoy the hours you’d otherwise spend scouring the Internet and do the digging for you. In this article, we’ve pulled together important information about today’s saline and silicone breast implant options.

Why Breast Implant Type, Size – and Shape – Matter

Saline vs. silicone – does implant type matter? A lot of factors affect your choice in breast implant type. If you had a poor prior experience with one type, your plastic surgeron may suggest the other. If you have a fair amount of existing breast tissue, saline may work well. Less? Silicone may offer better results.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recognizes two types of breast implants as being “approved for sale (and use by plastic surgeons) in the U.S.” – breast implants filled with saline and those made of silicone gel. The FDA says both have a silicone outer shell, but vary according to:

Implant Size * – This is where you truly get to exercise your freedom of choice, but think about your height, weight and build. A 5 ft, 100 lb., a petite 32A can look balanced and proportionate in 275-300 cc implants. It’s also important to consider implant profile, which affects breast forward projection.

* Reader Tip: One of our readers, Michelle, filled plastic baggies with warm water and slipped them under a tight tank top to “try” her implant options on for size – with 1 oz. of water equaling 30 cc. ?

Implant Shape – Some say round implants look more natural when lying down since they fall to the side. Shaped implants (contoured, anatomical or teardrop) are pre-formed and textured to avoid flipping. In the end, shape is a matter of personal preference your body type and goals should dictate.

Implant Surface – Smooth surfaces are common in breast implants. Texture was introduced to prevent capsular contracture, a scar-tissue related possible post-op side effect. No one knows if they truly do that and yet they can be firmer in appearance or to the touch. Ask your plastic surgeon more about this.

About Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone breast implants have a silicone outer shell and are filled with silicone gel. Silicone implants the FDA has OK’d for use in the U.S. are approved for breast augmentation in women 22+, breast reconstruction in women of all ages, and in revision or corrective surgery.

The three silicone gel-filled breast implants which carry FDA-approval are:

  1. Allergan’s Natrelle (approved Nov. 2006)
  2. Mentor’s MemoryGel (approved Nov. 2006)
  3. Sientra’s Silicone Gel Breast Implant (approved March 2012)

The FDA requires silicone gel breast implant manufacturers to conduct six “post-approval” studies, tracking the long-term outcomes and safety and reliability of their products. For more info, go to and read “Update on the Safety of Silicone Gel-Filled Breast Implants”.

The FDA also says MRIs are the most effective way for individuals to be screened for silicone breast implant “silent” (or otherwise undetectable) rupture. They recommend that women with silicone implants get screened three years after having implant surgery and once every two years after that.

About Saline Breast Implants

Saline implants also have a silicone outer shell, but instead of being filled with silicone gel, they’re filled with a sterile saltwater (saline) solution. Some are pre-filled, others are filled with fluid after being placed.

Like silicone implants, they come in a wide range of sizes. Available smooth or textured, saline implants the FDA has OK’d for use in the U.S. are approved for breast augmentation in women 18+, breast reconstruction in women of all ages, and in revision or corrective surgery.

The saline-filled breast implants which carry FDA-approval are:

  1. Allergan’s Medical RTV Saline-Filled Breast Implant (formerly called McGhan and Inamed breast implants)
  2. Mentor’s Saline-Filled & Spectrum Breast Implants

The FDA says studies conducted by those manufacturers do not show a connection between the use of saline-filled breast implants and connective tissue disease, breast cancer or reproductive problems. Yet, they admit that ruling out those or other complications entirely requires additional testing.

Other Important Breast Implant Facts

Memories? They last a lifetime. Breast implants? Unfortunately, they do not. ?Sadly, those rumors are true. The likelihood that your breast implants will eventually need to be removed increases with time. In other words, the longer you have them, the more likely you are to become a candidate for removal. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be replaced!

Reasons for breast implant removal vary, but include:

  • Implant Upgrade
  • Capsular Contracture
  • Revision or Corrective Surgery
  • Other Medical or Personal Reasons

To minimize the need for surprise implant removal, become an informed consumer. Ask your plastic surgeon to help you choose the best breast implants for body type, lifestyle and health profile – and ask to read the safety information they’re packaged with prior to surgery.

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