The human body is made up of about 60% water with a low salt content, thus there are two main types of breast implants commonly used for breast augmentation in Canada today. They are saline implants and silicone implants.
A breast implant is made up of essentially two components: the shell or outer liner, and the inner filling. The shell of both types of implants is made of silicone elastomer. It is flexible, strong and evokes a minimal reaction from the body. What differs between the two implants is the filler.
What is Saline?
Saline is sterile salt water. The human body is more than 60% salt water, thus saline is most commonly used intravenously to prevent dehydration. Saline has no negative impact on the body’s internal systems.
What is Silicone?
Silicone is often confused with the element silicon but they are very different. Silicone is a composition of various inorganic rubbers made by linking silica atoms. It is what many baby products (nipples, pacifiers, etc) are made out of and there is even such thing as “food grade” silicone used in kitchen products and bake ware which can be broken down by the body. Silicone is an inert material (it does not react to other substances) is very durable, can sustain very high temperatures and is hypoallergenic.
Saline Breast Implants
The filler in a saline implant is salt water or saline. The Plastic Surgeon placing the implant can control the amount of saline in these types of implants and thus these implants are somewhat adjustable at the time of the breast augmentation. If these implants break, only salt water leaks into the body. Because they are inserted empty and then filled after they are placed, the incision is often smaller than when using a silicone implant. Medical literature also shows that they have lower rates of capsular contracture compared to gel implants. However, these implants do not feel as natural as a silicone implant. As well, they are more prone to rippling and under filled implants can often have a sloshing sound during movement. As well, when they do break, the entire breast deflates, resulting in a noticeable breast asymmetry.
Silicone Breast Implants
The other type of implant is the silicone gel implant. The filler in this implant is made up of silicone gel. Newer implants have a cohesive gel filling that retains its shape, even when the implant shell is broken. The main advantage of this type of implant is that it feels very natural and is most consistent with native breast tissue. Disadvantages include gel leak, higher rates of capsular contracture, slightly larger incisions and that an implant rupture is more difficult to diagnose.
Can A Breast Implant Rupture or Deflate?
Yes. All implants can rupture and deflate. If left long enough in the body, eventually all implants will fail. Think of them as parts on a car. Eventually, they will need to be replaced. They wear out. Factors which impact on rupture include: age of the implant, when the implant was made (some early versions are very tough, some very weak), the presence or absence of capsular contracture, folds in the implant, and trauma (i.e. a large fall or car accident).