Mark Sisco, M.D.
501 Skokie Boulevard
Northbrook, IL 60062
Phone: (847) 504-2333
Monday: 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
Tuesday–Friday: 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

What Is the Difference Between Silicone & Saline Breast Implants?

Woman smiling and relaxing on bed

Choosing between silicone and saline implants is an important decision every woman has to make when choosing breast augmentation. At my Northbrook, IL, plastic surgery practice, I frequently consult with women about the benefits of each option as we work together to create the best results.

While these implant types have much in common and work essentially the same way, there are a few differences you should know about. Read on to learn more.

What Silicone & Saline Implants Have in Common

Let’s start by looking at how silicone and saline breast implants are alike.

FDA Approval

Both types of implants are FDA-approved, though they have different age guidelines—more on that below.

Customizable Sizes, Profiles & Placements

Both implants offer the option to personalize your outcome in several ways. This includes size, profile (how much the implant projects from the chest), and placement (either above or below the pectoral muscle). Learn more about customizing your breast augmentation results in this previous blog post.


Both saline and silicone-filled implants feature a silicone outer shell. Both typically last about 10 to 20 years, though this timeline varies from person to person.

How Silicone & Saline Breast Implants Are Different

Next, let’s examine the biggest differences between these implant types.

Fill Material

Saline implants contain sterile salt water cased in a silicone shell, whereas silicone implants contain a thicker silicone gel.

Age Guidelines

Saline implants are FDA-approved for cosmetic use in people aged 18 and older, whereas silicone is approved for cosmetic use in people 22 and older. Both options are approved at any age for breast reconstruction.

Rupture Risks

Saline implant ruptures are obvious, as the implant deflates and your body absorbs the water. However, silicone implant ruptures may not be as apparent. It is recommended that you monitor these implants with regular MRIs or ultrasounds to detect any issues.

Look & Feel

Silicone implants tend to look and feel more like natural breast tissue. Depending on your needs, silicone implants can have varying degrees of firmness to match the feel of your own breast. Saline implants are more likely to demonstrate rippling and other effects that may compromise the natural look of your results.


Saline implants cost less than silicone implants. This will factor into the overall cost of your breast augmentation.

Incision Size

Saline implants require a slightly smaller incision as they are inflated after being placed in the implant pocket. Silicone implants are made pre-filled, so they require a slightly longer incision.

Making the Choice

While you have plenty of pros and cons to ponder, remember that you do not have to choose your implant type on your own. It’s best to talk your options over with a board-certified plastic surgeon who will guide you to the right option for your body, lifestyle, and goals.

To see examples of the results created with each type of implant, please visit my before-and-after photo gallery.

If you would like to discuss your options with a breast augmentation surgeon in the Northshore area, please contact me online or call (847) 504-2333.

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