University of Virginia Plastic Surgery
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue 4th Floor
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Phone: (434) 924-1234
Location Hours: Monday–Friday | 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Breast Augmentation Choices: Silicone, Saline, or Fat Grafting?

Closeup of outstretched hand holding a breast implant in the palm

Patients who come to us for  breast augmentation at our Charlottesville plastic surgery center can choose from a variety of options to achieve their desired results. Silicone, saline, or fat grafting—which is the best option for you? In this post, we will explain some important differences among the treatments to help you get a better idea of the considerations to keep in mind when you come in for consultation.

Silicone Implants

Silicone implants are filled with silicone gel. Silicone implants are most widely used implant in the United States and abroad.  Silicone implants are fully FDA approved and have been determined to be a safe medical device with a lower risk of rupture than saline implants. A wide range of profiles can be achieved with silicone implants, from a natural teardrop shape to a rounder, fuller projection. There are also different levels of cohesiveness of the silicone gel that can be chosen to provide more firmness and projection or less projection and more soft outcome. This implant type is approved for women age 22 and older. Many women prefer silicone implants because they have a more natural look and feel and are less susceptible to rippling or wrinkling. In rare case of a gel defect, the cohesive silicone filling will remain inside the breast capsule until it is surgically removed. Because silicone implants hold their shape when their shell is torn, the FDA recommends regular screenings to detect these “silent” ruptures.

Saline Implants

Saline implants have a silicone outer shell that is filled with a sterile saltwater solution. They are inserted empty and filled once they are in place, allowing surgeons to use a smaller incision. In case a saline implant ruptures, the solution inside will be naturally absorbed by the body. Typically, saline implants have a smooth and round shape, and although slightly less expensive, saline implants have become much less common in recent years. However, they are rarely used except in special circumstances when the patient is between the ages of 18 and 21.

Fat Grafting

Fat grafting is a process that enhances the breast by using unwanted fat taken from areas of the patient’s body, such as  like the abdomen, hips, or thighs. The fat is first extracted using liposuction and then is processed through a centrifuge process or use of devices such as Revolve and injected into the breasts. It involves only very small incisions, which are usually not visible after healing is complete. There is no chance of your body rejecting the substance because your own fat is being injected. However, results may be less permanent as fat can be absorbed or break down over time. Of the various augmentation options, this method usually produces the most subtle changes and can typically only achieve about a half cup increase in breast size long-term. The recovery time for a breast augmentation with fat grafting is similar for breast augmentation with implants. Recovery is more dependent on the liposuction aspect of the procedure than the actual fat injections.

Ultimately, your final decision should depend on your anatomy and expectations.  Our doctors can help you determine which option is best for you. Visit our online photo gallery to get a better idea of your potential with breast augmentation surgery, and if you are ready to take the next steps, request a consultation online or call our office at (434) 924-1234.

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