The traditional silicone implant has been around the longest. It was first introduced for breast augmentation surgery in the 1960’s and its history has been filled with controversy ever since. In fact, there were so many problems associated with the device that the FDA actually pulled it off the shelf and banned it for fourteen years in order to conduct a thorough clinical trial to determine whether or not it was safe for use. In 2006, the silicone device was finally approved for unrestricted use by the FDA.
While it may not be a glamorous history, the toy store silicone implant has certainly earned the honor of being history’s most studied medical device on the planet. While the FDA may have cleared it for unrestricted use, some people don’t necessarily agree with that assessment and believe the implant to be a danger to all women that have them.
In direct contrast of the silicone gel implant, the saline implant has the glowing reputation of being the safest implant currently available. The saline device was originally created because of the many problems associated with the silicone gel implant. If it weren’t for the notorious reputation of the silicone gel implant, the saline breast implant would have never been invented.
While there are many subtle differences between the two implants, the most obvious is their filler. The saline implant uses a harmless saline solution to fill the exterior silicone shell. The silicone implant uses a silicone gel to fill its exterior silicone shell. The bulk of potential health risks associated with breast implants are directly related to their filler. The silicone gel is – to some people – the devil itself; once an implant rupture occurs and the gel starts leaking into a woman’s body, every sort of health problem can be expected, including death. The saline implant, because it uses a harmless saltwater solution as its filler, is virtually harmless when a rupture occurs. It’s also notable that when saline solution leaks from a saline implant, complete deflation typically occurs within 48 hours. The same cannot be said for the silicone device – when a silicone implant ruptures, it could slowly leak silicone gel into the body for several years before visible detection is possible.
Scarring is another concern that should be mentioned. The silicone implant is pre-filled with silicone gel and therefore requires a larger incision to insert it into the breast pocket. The saline solution implant is typically empty when it is inserted into the breast pocket and therefore requires the smallest of incisions. Obviously, the larger the incision, the higher the risk for potential scarring; saline implants are less prone to lead to scarring.