The overwhelming popularity of silicone breast implants represents a remarkable turnaround since the FDA approved their return to the market less than 10 years ago. The most recent statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® showed that more than 75% of patients last year chose silicone implants for their breast augmentation procedures. At my Nashville, TN practice, virtually all of our patients — 97% — selected silicone implants last year.
In the first year after the FDA lifted the moratorium on silicone implants — 2006 — fewer than 20% of the women who underwent breast augmentation surgery opted for the silicone version. That number has increased every subsequent year, and the trend shows no sign of reversing.
The reasons for silicone’s popularity are clear. Check out some of the benefits:
- More natural look and feel: The development of highly cohesive silicone gel implants, often referred to as “gummy bear” implants, offered patients an implant that felt remarkably like natural breast tissue. Saline implants, filled with a saltwater solution, feel much firmer than silicone gel.
- Work well both under and over the muscle: Breast implants can be placed either over or under the pectoral muscle. Saline implants, though, are more suitable for under-the-muscle placement because they are prone to visible rippling and wrinkling and because of that less natural feel when placed above the muscle. The look and feel of silicone implants, on the other hand, work well in either location.
- Huge variety of shapes and sizes: Teardrop-shaped silicone gel implants resemble the breast’s natural slope and are an attractive alternative for patients who don’t want the upper fullness associated with round implants. The makers of silicone implants also offer a range of sizes and implant profiles so that surgeons can accommodate each patient’s unique body frame and cosmetic goals.
All that being said, saline implants remain a good option for some patients, such as women who want an incision placed in the underarm area. The best way for someone considering breast augmentation to know which implant material is right for them is to come in for a private consultation.