Be informed about your options
In 2008, over 300,000 women had breast augmentation surgery. Once women have decided that breast augmentation is right for them, they will need to decide whether they want silicone or saline implants. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options, and women need to give serious thought to their choice.
Though silicone implants cost about $1,000 more than saline implants, many women choose this option. The biggest advantage of implants over saline is that this type of implant is smoother and softer, feeling more like a real breast.
Because of concerns about leaking silicone, silicone breast implants were taken off the market in 1992. In late 2006, the Food and Drug Administration declared silicone implants to be safe. The FDA based its decision on clinical studies and the verdict of scientists about the safety of the implant. Even so, the FDA suggests that women who have undergone breast augmentation surgery get an MRI after three years to check for leakage, and every other year after that. Since an MRI costs up to $2,000, that amount needs to be added to the cost of silicone implants.
Another “caveat” of the FDA’s decision to approve silicone implants was that manufacturers of implants monitor patients for ten years. In 2011, two major manufacturers admitted that they lost track of thousands of women.
Complications with silicone implants include hardening of the breast, wrinkled/lopsided implants, scarring, pain and infection. It is estimated that up to one-half of women with silicone implants will need additional surgeries or have the implants removed within the first decade. Removal of implants can result in deformed breasts, which is a terrible thing for any woman to endure, but especially for those who are concerned about the attractiveness of their breasts.
Saline breast implants are filled with salt water, which is absorbed by the body should there be a leak. Saline implants are filled after they are implanted, and this results in a smaller incision than what is needed for the silicone implant. Also, saline implants may be adjusted after surgery: doctors can use a syringe to add or remove liquid. There is no way to adjust silicone implants after surgery.
Though saline implants have some advantages over silicone implants, many people feel that the implant is inferior to the silicone: they say that saline implants feel like water balloons. Yet, with improved surgical techniques–such as placing the saline implant behind the chest muscle and overfilling it a bit—the problems with saline implants may be mitigated. And, while many women say the silicone implant is better than the saline because it feels more “natural,” many men say that breasts filled with silicone implants can feel like bags full of wet sand.
Discuss options with a plastic surgeon
Women who have decided to surgically augment their breasts need to discuss all their options with a qualified plastic surgeon. They need to keep in mind that, since silicone implants were off the market for 14 years, many plastic surgeons may not have experience with silicone implants.
Women choose breast augmentation in the belief that the procedure will enhance the look and feel of their breasts. However, the decision should not be made lightly—it is, after all, surgery. Women who have decided on this path need to talk about their options with a plastic surgeon who is experienced with the type of implant chosen.