This Article Has Been Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Jennifer Emmett, M.D.

Home Breast Augmentation What Makes Breast Implants Safe?

January 17, 2022

Breast implant safety and design have come a long way since the 1960s when they were first introduced.

Today, there are two implant choices — silicone and saline. Of the two, silicone implants are more popular, accounting for around 85% of all implants.

In the US alone there are over 1.5 million women with silicone implants. Over 300,000 women get breast implants every year, making it the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in America.

There is some risk associated with breast augmentation and implants, the vast majority of women who got implants were satisfied with their results. The benefits often outweigh the risks involved with the surgery.

In this post, we’ll explain the different implant types available today, what makes breast implants safe, and talk about the initial consultation and post-op recovery tips you should be aware of before getting breast implants.

Saline and Silicone Implants — Both Great Safe Options

The good news is that saline and silicone breast implants are considered safe by the FDA for the use of breast augmentation and breast reconstruction surgeries.

Both saline and silicone implants are made of an outer shell of medical-grade silicone. However, silicone implants are filled with a form-stable silicone gel and saline implants are filled with a saltwater solution.

Saline breast implants can be inserted using smaller incisions because the implant is inserted empty, and then filled with a saline solution once inside the body. 

Silicone breast implants are inserted whole into the body, as the silicone gel is already filled inside the implant. Silicone implants require larger incisions than saline implants.

Of the two choices, it’s said that silicone implants more closely resemble the feel of real breast tissue and fat over saline. 

Saline implants are recommended for patients 18 and older, while silicone implants are recommended for patients 22 years and older. 

Age recommendations are put in place by the FDA to ensure that young women don’t receive breast augmentation surgery while their breasts are still developing. 

However, every patient’s needs and background are different, and these considerations will help Dr. Emmett pick the right implant type based on your age, body type, and breast enhancement goals.

What are the potential risks and complications of implants?

Every surgical procedure, no matter how small or large, comes with inherent risks and the chance of potential complications.

Neither silicone or saline implants pose more risks than the other. 

Both risks and complications are associated with the surgical procedure and the body’s response to placing a prosthesis (implant) inside the body.

The vast majority of women who get breast implants will have no adverse reactions or side effects. Common potential complications include:

  • Capsular contracture (hard scar tissue forming around the implants)
  • Changes or loss of nipple sensation
  • Infection
  • Hematoma
  • Poor scarring
  • Implant rupture
  • Swelling and excess fluid accumulation
  • Rippling or wrinkling of skin over the implants
  • Trouble breastfeeding

What is the Average Lifetime of Implants?

Before getting breast enhancement surgery, you should understand that implants are not considered lifetime devices. They’ll likely need to be removed or replaced at least once in your lifetime.

Technically, breast implants don’t have an expiration date or pre-determined shelf life. As long as they still look and feel fine, they are. 

However, many people will say that implants last around 10 years or so. It’s possible for implants to last up to 15 or 20 years as long as they are still in good shape. However, the likelihood of a rupture increases every year for older implants.

The good news is today’s implants are designed to minimize any harm in the event of a rupture. Saline implants will simply leak the safe saltwater solution into your breast tissue. 

Silicone implants use a special gel that doesn’t leak into breast tissue but instead sticks to itself like a gummy bear candy, which is why silicone implants are referred to as “gummy bear implants.”

A saline rupture will be obvious right away, as you’ll notice your breast will become visibly deflated. Silicone ruptures are harder to spot. If you feel pain or suspect your implant has become ruptured, notify your plastic surgeon right away so they can remove and replace your implant.

What to Discuss During Your Initial Consultation Before Surgery

An initial consultation is required prior to surgery to make sure the patient is healthy enough to undergo the procedure.

During this initial visit, you will discuss with Dr. Emmett your motivations for receiving breast implants, as well as go over your health history and family health history.

If you are pregnant, plan on being pregnant in the near future, or are still breastfeeding, you will be advised to wait until a later time to receive your breast implants.

Dr. Emmett will also measure your breasts and take photographs for your personal medical file, and will have you try out different implant sizes and types to find the perfect match for your body.

A Special Note on Post-Surgery Recovery

Your breast augmentation does not end at the end of the surgery. 

It will be very important for you to follow through with Dr. Emmett’s recovery advice to ensure a healthy and successful breast augmentation.

This means coming in for your routine check-ups, wearing a post-op surgical bra, not exercising too rigorously, getting massages, not smoking, and sleeping on your back during your recovery period.

It takes approximately 6-8 weeks after breast augmentation surgery for your body to fully heal and resume your daily living activities. It will take an additional 3 months or more for your implants to fully settle into place and give you your final breast enhancement results.

Schedule Your Consultation at Emmett Plastic Surgery

Now that you know what makes breast implants safe, hopefully, you feel more confident in your decision. Schedule your initial breast augmentation consultation today.

Dr. Jennifer Emmett, M.D. is the founder and lead plastic surgeon at Emmett Plastic Surgery. 

Her practice and staff serve the greater Denver and Centennial areas of Colorado, as well as host patients from across the country.

Dr. Emmett is Double-Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and American Board of Surgery. 

She is highly skilled and experienced in plastic surgery procedures, including breast augmentation, breast reduction, body contouring, tummy tuck, facial surgery, Botox, lip injections, derma fillers, and more.

If you’ve been considering getting breast implants, don’t wait!

Contact us today to schedule your first consultation with Dr. Emmett.