Saline or silicone? If you’re having a breast augmentation, it’s a decision you will make during the planning process. The vast majority of breast augmentation patients decide to choose silicone implants, but a new saline implant is attempting to change that trend.
Dr. Bruce Van Natta calls the Ideal Implant® “a truly innovative device.” He is excited at its potential and the ability to expand the choices available for breast augmentation patients. “Patients have really had poor options – gel, which feels more natural, or saline. Now, if they are a little concerned about silicone, and would rather stick with saline, this is going to be a really great option for them.”
Silicone Vs. Saline
All implants have a silicone shell. Silicone implants fill the shell with silicone gel while saline implants fill the shell with saline. Silicone implants received FDA approval in 2006. Since then, most implant innovations have come from the silicone gel side of the fence. Silicone implants have evolved with new cohesive (gummy bear) gels, new shapes and new textured shells that have all been developed in recent years.
While silicone gel implants have evolved, saline implant options have remained at a standstill. The Ideal Implant takes that original silicone shell filled with saline, which has often been compared to a water balloon, and adds a second “inner” chamber. Between the two chambers are “baffles” to prevent sloshing of liquid and provide for more natural movement of the saline.
A New Design
“The concept is that rather than just being a single shell, like the classic saline implants are, this implant has a second lumen or shell inside the outer one,” explains Van Natta. “Between those two shells are layers of silicone, like the shell, but they’re cut and they are baffles; stacked on each other with slits in them. When you fill this implant with saline at the time of surgery, you fill both the pockets, but in the space between the two shells the water has to flow through those little slits.” He goes on to describe the layering and baffling effect as being similar to a shock absorber or a wave-free water bed’s design, providing more natural movement.
Now there’s some competition, particularly for those patients who still have some lingering doubts and concerns about silicone gel or what happens if it leaks. – Bruce Van Natta, MD
Silicone gel implants come pre-filled: you pick the size and shape before surgery. Saline implants, on the other hand, are filled during surgery. This leaves room for adjustments at the time of surgery. Dr. Van Natta sees this as an advantage. He is able to make operating room adjustments to provide his patient’s the best outcome possible. “You can really change the characteristics of this implant, simply by adjusting fill volume,” he explains.
Competition is Good
Patients who want a natural feel and look but are hesitant to choose silicone are the ideal candidates for the Ideal Implant. “We are in a situation, rather than where we’ve classically been, with a simple saline device and a silicone gel implant, and there really wasn’t much contest. Now there’s some competition, particularly for those patients who still have some lingering doubts and concerns about silicone gel or what happens if it leaks,” says Dr. Van Natta.