Silicone or Saline Implants?

Just over six years since they were banned by the FDA, silicone breast implants are now most commonly used for cosmetic surgery procedures in America.

In fact they accounted for nearly three quarters of the 330,631 breast augmentations carried out in 2012, with only 28% of procedures using saline breast implants.

The new statistics come from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and many practicing surgeons will tell you that silicone is favoured because it better replicates the look and feel of real breasts.

The original ban happened in 1992 over concerns that silicone could be dangerous if the breast implants ruptured, and possibly lead to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Even during the ban, silicone implants were still permitted for use in breast reconstructions, just not for cosmetic surgeries.

However extensive tests never confirmed any possible risks from silicone implants and when the FDA lifted the ban, it released a statement saying that silicone implants are "safe and effective."

You still need to make sure you see an experienced cosmetic surgeon as silicone implants can lead to complications such as infection and scarring, with 20% of implant patients needing to have them removed within a 10 year period.

However implant technology has improved massively with Allergan perfecting natural-looking, teardrop shaped implants.  Implants have also become firmer which means that even if they were compromised they would not leak. 

The typical silicone breast implant patient is in her mid 30s, has had children, and wants her breasts to return to their normal shape.

On the other hand saline implants are more prone to texture changes, but are good for younger women who want to avoid scarring as they involve a smaller incision.

Breast augmentation was the most frequent cosmetic surgery procedure in 2012, according to statistics from a number of surgical bodies.