There are many options in choosing breast implants for breast augmentation. A new option has recently been added to the mix: the IDEAL Implant®. This structured saline implant offers the peace of mind of saline with the more natural feel that you would normally get with a silicone implant.
You Have Many Breast Implant Options
Breast implants can be filled with saline (saltwater) or silicone gel. Saline implants are inserted in the breast pocket empty and filled at the time of surgery. Silicone gel implants come prefilled, so they usually require a slightly longer incision. The outside can be smooth or have varying degrees of roughness or texture. The implants can be partially filled, completely filled, or overfilled. They can have different width-to-height ratios or different types and degrees of projection. The gel can be very soft, medium or firm. The implants can be completely round or have a shape with various dimensions of height, width and projection.
Each implant option has its pros and cons.
Saline or Silicone: Which Implant Is Best for Your Breasts?
The two largest general categories for implants are saline-filled and silicone gel-filled. The silicone gel implants tend to be softer and more natural but can have silent ruptures. A silent rupture is when the implant breaks, but you really can’t tell that it is broken just by looking at or feeling the implant. This has led to the FDA recommendation to perform MRI scans 3 years after placing the implants and every 2 years thereafter.
The MRI scan is the best noninvasive way to determine if the implant is broken. These scans are usually not covered by insurance. It is also recommended that a ruptured implant be replaced. Replacement of a ruptured silicone gel implant requires the removal of the scar tissue around the implant at the same time. This is done to remove as much of the free silicone gel as possible.
If a saline implant breaks it will deflate. It is very evident when that has occurred. No MRI scans are needed. If they do have to be replaced, it is a much less invasive and simpler procedure when compared to silicone gel implants. Saline implants do have the downside of being less natural in the way they look and feel. They look rounder and feel firmer. There may also be more rippling of the saline implant when compared to the silicone gel implant.
Why the IDEAL Implant Is Different From Typical Saline Implants
There is now a new implant that combines some of the pros of silicone implants and eliminates some of the negatives of saline implants. It is called the IDEAL implant. It is a saline implant that looks, feels, and acts like a silicone gel implant but does not require MRI follow-up. Just like saline implants, it will deflate visibly if ruptured and is easily replaced. It is also adjustable when initially placed. Just like silicone gel implants, it is softer and more natural in look and feel.
The IDEAL implant is priced about the same as a silicone gel implant and carries similar warranties. The incision tends to be smaller than that for a silicone gel implant because it is filled with saltwater after it is in place, unlike the silicone gel implant that is prefilled.
This new type of implant was developed by plastic surgeons and appears to offer a suitable alternative to the old-style saline implants and silicone gel-filled implants. A complete discussion with a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery with extensive experience in breast augmentation can help you decide what type of implant is right for you.
by Dr. John Stratis
Addendum: After this blog post was published, researchers presented a study in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery that found that IDEAL implants have a high satisfaction rate with both patients and surgeons, and they experience a lower rate of rupture and capsular contracture.
You can get answers to your top breast augmentation questions in our related blog post. And to see how different breast implants look in real life, visit our photo gallery to see breast augmentation before and after pictures.