Saline Implants: The Classic Breast Augmentation Technique

Breast implants are fundamentally classified into three types defined by their filler material – silicone gel, saline solution and composite filler. Saline implant is called so because the implant is filled with saline solution. It was first manufactured in France by Laboratories Arion Company in 1964. It was introduced as a medical prosthetic device.

Technical Composition:
A sterile saline solution with a 0.9% weight/volume concentration of NaCl and a 300 Osmolality /litre is used in making saline implants. These implants are made with thick room temperature vulcanized shells made of silicone elastomer. The saline water is safe as it has a composition similar to the saline in the blood plasma.

Saline implant is a fairly simple breast augmentation procedure. Perfection of this procedure over the years makes it very safe and highly reliable. In the surgery, an empty saline implant is placed surgically through a small hidden incision mostly near the axilla (armpit). The volume of filling the implant is decided based on the patient’s desires. The exact specification is then decided by the doctor after measurements of what the chest can safely support. The empty implant is then filled according to specification remotely through a special valve connection within the implant. The incisions are then closed with surgical tape and skin adhesives. These lines will fade due to the small dimension of the incision.

The incisions required for saline implants are very small and nearly invisible for all aesthetic purposes. Due to the nature of the implant technique, these implants can be altered. Depending on the aesthetic requirements of the patient, breasts can be enlarged or reduced even after the initial implant is made. The real-time alteration possible during surgery enables the surgeon to achieve a higher degree of breast symmetry based on feedback.

Choosing Type of Implant:
There is no clear verdict on whether saline implants are better than silicone implants or not. However based on the patient and requirements, an informed decision can be made. A few guidelines in choosing the implant type are mentioned here.

While Silicone implants give a more natural breast-like feel, saline implants have a tendency to look more round. Saline implants are cost-effective. Saline implants are available to women of 18 years age or older whereas silicone implants are available to women of 22 years age or older. Therefore saline implants are a popular choice for teenage breast augmentation interested patients.
Although ruptures are prevalent in both silicone and saline implants, it is easily detectable in saline implants. The breast almost immediately deflates which enables the patient in taking corrective measures to prevent damage. However, when silicone implants rupture there is no visible difference in the breast. It may also feel the same due to leak of silicone gel into the surrounding spaces.

While the more recent technique of silicone implants is gaining popularity, saline implants are equally competent due to its numerous benefits. Being an FDA approved prosthetic, saline implant is witnessing vast research undertaken every day to advance the field of breast augmentation and reconstruction.