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Silicone Implant vs. Saline Implant: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 27, 2023
Silicone implants are filled with silicone gel, while saline implants are filled with sterile salt water.

Key Differences

Silicone implants and saline implants are both used in breast augmentation surgeries to enhance or reconstruct the breast size and shape. The primary distinction between the two lies in their content. Silicone implants are filled with a viscous silicone gel, which closely mimics the feel of natural breast tissue. Saline implants, on the other hand, are filled with sterile salt water, giving them a different consistency and feel when compared to silicone implants.
Both silicone implants and saline implants have their respective advantages and disadvantages. Silicone implants are often lauded for their natural feel and appearance, making them a popular choice among many patients and surgeons. Saline implants, conversely, are known for their adjustable size during surgery and a smaller incision requirement since they're filled after being placed.
Durability and the risk of rupture are concerns associated with both silicone implants and saline implants. If a silicone implant ruptures, the gel might stay in the shell or escape into the breast implant pocket, which could be less noticeable but might require an MRI to detect. In contrast, if a saline implant leaks, the saline solution will be harmlessly absorbed by the body, and the rupture will be immediately evident as the implant deflates.
Age requirements differ between silicone implants and saline implants for cosmetic breast augmentation. In the U.S., the FDA approves silicone implants for women aged 22 and older, while saline implants are approved for women 18 and older. Both types of implants require diligent monitoring and might need replacement over time.

Comparison Chart

Filling Material

Silicone gel.
Sterile salt water.


Mimics natural breast tissue closely.
Firmer and less like natural breast tissue.

Rupture Detection

Might require MRI for detection.
Immediately noticeable as implant deflates.

Age Requirement (FDA)

Approved for women aged 22 and older.
Approved for women 18 and older.

Incision Requirement

Typically larger due to pre-filled nature.
Smaller, as they're filled after placement.

Silicone Implant and Saline Implant Definitions

Silicone Implant

An implant mimicking the feel of natural breast tissue.
Many women prefer the silicone implant because of its similarity to real tissue.

Saline Implant

An implant with adjustable size during surgery.
The flexibility of the saline implant allowed for adjustments during the procedure.

Silicone Implant

A medical device filled with silicone used to enhance the breast size or shape.
The cosmetic surgeon showcased various sizes of silicone implant options.

Saline Implant

A medical device filled with salt water used to modify breast appearance.
The saline implant offers a unique set of advantages and disadvantages in breast surgeries.

Silicone Implant

A prosthetic used in breast surgeries containing viscous silicone gel.
The surgeon recommended a silicone implant for the breast reconstruction.

Saline Implant

A breast implant filled with sterile salt water.
She decided on a saline implant due to its safety in case of rupture.

Silicone Implant

A gel-filled implant used in breast augmentation.
She chose the silicone implant over saline due to its texture.

Saline Implant

A prosthetic used in breast surgeries containing sterile saline solution.
For her breast augmentation, the doctor suggested a saline implant.

Silicone Implant

A breast implant filled with silicone gel.
The patient opted for a silicone implant for its natural feel.

Saline Implant

A water-filled implant used in breast augmentation or reconstruction.
After researching, she was leaning towards a saline implant for her surgery.


Which implant feels more like natural breast tissue?

Silicone implants are often said to mimic the feel of natural breast tissue more closely.

What's inside a silicone implant?

A silicone implant is filled with silicone gel.

Are there age restrictions for using saline implants?

Yes, in the U.S., the FDA approves saline implants for women 18 and older.

How is a rupture in a saline implant detected?

A rupture in a saline implant is immediately evident as the implant deflates.

Which implant is more popular?

The choice varies based on individual preferences, but silicone implants are often chosen for their natural feel.

Is the silicone in silicone implants safe?

Yes, the silicone gel in silicone implants is medical-grade and deemed safe for use.

Can you adjust the size of a saline implant during surgery?

Yes, the size of saline implants can be adjusted during surgery as they are filled after placement.

How does the content of a saline implant differ?

A saline implant is filled with sterile salt water.

How long do silicone implants last?

While they can last many years, they might require replacement or maintenance over time.

Do saline implants feel firmer than silicone implants?

Yes, saline implants generally feel firmer and less like natural breast tissue compared to silicone implants.

How are ruptures in silicone implants detected?

Detection might require an MRI since the gel might stay within the shell or the implant pocket.

Which implant requires a larger incision?

Silicone implants typically require a larger incision since they are pre-filled.

How long is the recovery time post-implant surgery?

Recovery varies by individual but typically ranges from several days to a few weeks.

Can implants rupture from physical activity?

While rare, intense physical activity can pose a risk, so it's essential to follow post-operative care guidelines.

How often should implants be checked post-surgery?

Regular check-ups are advised, but the frequency might differ based on the implant type and individual concerns.

Is one implant type safer than the other?

Both implant types have their risks and benefits; the best choice depends on individual preferences and medical advice.

Can implants affect mammograms?

Yes, implants can obscure mammogram images, but technicians can use special techniques to get a clearer view.

Are there alternatives to silicone and saline implants?

While these are the most common, there are alternatives like structured implants and fat transfer procedures.

What happens if a saline implant leaks?

The body harmlessly absorbs the saline solution, and the implant deflates.

Are there any risks associated with silicone implants?

As with any surgery, there are risks, including rupture, scarring, and infection.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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