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Saline Implants

A Brief Look At Saline Implants

There are three general types of breast implant device, defined by the filler material: saline, silicone, and composite. The saline implant has an elastomer silicone shell filled with sterile saline solution, the silicone implant has an elastomer silicone shell filled with viscous silicone gel, and the alternative composition implants feature miscellaneous fillers, such as soy oil, polypropylene string, etc.

Saline Implants and Surgical Technology

The saline breast implant is filled with a saline solution (biological-concentration salt water 0.90% w/v of NaCl, ca. 300 mOsm/L.). The early models were a relatively delicate technology that were prone to failure, usually shell breakage, leakage of the saline filler, and deflation of the prosthesis.

Contemporary models of saline breast implant are made with stronger, room-temperature vulcanized (RTV) shells made of a silicone elastomer. The study In Vitro Deflation of Pre-filled Saline Breast Implants (2006) reported that the rates of deflation (filler leakage) of the pre-filled saline breast implant made it a second choice for corrective breast surgery, after the silicone gel type of breast implant.

Nonetheless, in the 1990s, in U.S. medicine, the saline breast implant was the usual breast prosthesis applied for breast augmentation, given the unavailability of silicone implants, because of the import restrictions of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Saline Implants and Surgical Technique

The saline breast implant was developed to facilitate a more conservative surgical technique, of smaller and fewer cuts to the breast, for emplacing an empty breast-implant device through a smaller surgical incision.

Having emplaced the empty breast implants into the implant pockets, the plastic surgeon then fills each breast prosthesis with saline solution, and, because the required insertion incisions are small, the resultant incision-scars will be smaller than the surgical scar usual to the long incision required for inserting pre-filled, silicone-gel implants.

Although the saline breast implant can yield good-to-excellent results of breast size, contour, and feel, when compared to silicone-implant results, the saline implant is more likely to cause cosmetic problems such as rippling, wrinkling, and being noticeable to the eye and to the touch.

This is especially true for women with very little breast tissue, and for post-mastectomy reconstruction patients. Thus, silicone-gel implants are the superior prosthetic device for breast augmentation and for breast reconstruction nowadays.

In the case of the woman with a great deal of breast tissue, for whom submuscular emplacement is the recommended surgical technique, saline breast implants (i.e. placed beneath the muscle) can afford an aesthetic “look” of breast size, contour, and feel, much like that afforded by the silicone implant.