What are breast implants made from?

Today, implants are filled with either a cohesive silicone gel or saline. The silicone used is a medical-grade, viscous material encased in a soft shell that gives a firm yet natural feel. The saline implants are filled with a sterile saltwater solution encased in a silicone shell.

Silicone vs saline implants

One of the most common questions women have about breast implants is whether to choose silicone or saline. The choice usually comes down to factors like personal preference and the desired results, but there are a few key differences to consider during the decision process.

Saline implants are approved for women who are 18 years of age or older, whereas women need to be at least 22 years old to be eligible for silicone implants per FDA guidelines.

One of the factors to consider when deciding between silicone and saline is the feel of the implant under the skin. Because saline is simply a sterile saltwater solution, it can sometimes be seen or felt more often in women who have thinner skin. This phenomenon, called “rippling,” can even happen to some degree with silicone implants, but it’s worth asking your surgeon about during your consultation.

Silicone implants are often more popular because they have a more natural feel once they’re in the breast. They contain medical-grade molecules of silicone gel with varying degrees of “stickiness,” or cohesiveness, similar to gummy candy or tacky adhesive. The amount of cohesiveness helps determine the firmness and shape of the silicone.

What does a silicone implant look like?

Silicone breast implants come in different shapes (round or teardrop), sizes, profiles and levels of firmness. During your consultation, the surgeon will usually be able to point out the options that will give you the best results according to your preferences, and review the pros and cons of each option.

How long do silicone and saline breast implants last?

The lifetime of breast implants depends on a lot of factors, but in most cases it’s important to remember that they’re not intended to last a lifetime with no upkeep.

Most surgeons recommend that those who choose silicone implants receive regular MRI scans to make sure the implants are intact and functioning correctly, but they don’t generally need to be lifted or replaced for many years.

How resilient are silicone implants?

The most recent iterations of silicone implants are surprisingly resilient and resistant to deflating, ruptures and leakage. In fact, the latest “gummy bear” implants, which are more formally referred to as “form-stable implants,” can hold their shape even when the surrounding shell is sliced open and squeezed.


To see what we’re talking about regarding shape stability, we recommend that you watch the above short video of Seattle plastic surgeon Dr. Shahram Salemy cutting open one of these implants and demonstrating just how resilient and stable they are.

How do I decide if silicone breast implants are right for me?

Breast augmentation is an incredibly personal procedure because every woman’s body is unique. If you think that silicone breast implants sound appealing, we highly recommend seeking out a board-certified plastic surgeon so that you can discuss your needs, desires and preferences with an expert. A qualified plastic surgeon can give you excellent advice regarding which style of implant is best, but ultimately, the final choice will be yours.