Saline And Silicone Breast Implants

There are two main types of breast implants used in the UK: saline implants and silicone implants. These implants differ in a number of ways such as how they look and feel, how they are inserted into your breasts and how much they cost.

One type of implant is not better than the other. The type of implant that is best for you will depend on the results you want to achieve from breast enlargement surgery.

To ensure you choose the right implant for you, make sure that you carefully weigh up the pros and cons of both saline and silicone implants and get impartial advice from your breast surgeon during your consultation.

What Is The Difference Between Saline And Silicone Breast Implants?

Breast implants are surgically inserted into a woman’s natural breasts to enhance their size and shape. There are two main types of implant used in breast enlargement surgery: saline implants and silicone implants. Whilst most cosmetic surgery clinics will offer you the choice of both breast implants, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. We have produced this guide to help you to understand the difference between saline and silicone implants so that you can make an informed decision about which type of breast implant is right for you. The table below gives you a quick overview of the key differences between saline and silicone implants:

Factor Saline Implants Silicone Implants
Material Saline salt water solution in a silicone shell Runny silicone gel in a silicone shell
Look and Feel Firm and hard, more artificial Soft and round, more natural
Scarring Small incision scar Large incision scar
Safety Rupture immediately detectable Rupture can go undiscovered
Cost Cheaper, approximately £4,300 More expensive, approximately £4,700

Material, Look and Feel

Both saline and silicone implants are made of a soft silicone outer shell, however the fluid they are filled with is different. Saline implants contain a sterile saline (salt water) solution similar to that found in the human body. These implants are firm to touch, and can have an artificially round look when placed inside the breast.

Comparatively, (as the name suggests) silicone implants contain a thick, sticky silicone gel similar in consistency to human fat. Because of this, these implants have a much more natural look and feel to them than saline implants. Silicone implants are spongy to touch and have a realistic bounce to them, creating a softer contour when placed inside the breast.


Larger incisions have to be made in order to insert silicone implants into the breast when compared to saline implants. This means that silicone implants will create a larger, more unsightly scar on your chest. This is because silicone implants need to be put into the breast cavity pre-filled with silicone gel. Obviously the larger the implant, the larger the cut your surgeon will need to make in order to position them inside your breast.

On the other hand, saline implants can be inserted into your breasts as an empty shell. Once inside your breasts, saline implants are then filled with a salt water solution to the desired size and shape. Because of this, the incision point on your breasts is much smaller meaning your scars from the surgery will be much more discrete.

Which cup size would you like to be?


Both saline and silicone breast implants pose a number of risks once inserted into your body, such as causing a build-up of scar tissue in your breasts, breast pain and reduced nipple sensitivity. One major risk associated with breast implants is rupturing. This occurs when the outer silicone shell develops a hole or splits, causing the inner fluid to leak out. The chance of this happening is similar in both types of implant, although the consequences of a rupture differs between saline and silicone varieties.

If saline breast implants rupture, it is often instantly noticeable because your breast will change size and shape as your implant deflates. Since saline solution is a naturally occurring substance within your body, the fluid will simply be absorbed as it leaks out of your implant.

In contrast, when a silicone implant ruptures it is much more difficult to detect. Because silicone gel is much thicker than saline, it leaks out into your breast tissue at a much slower rate. This means that a rupture in a silicone implant often goes undiscovered unless you begin to notice changes to your breast shape or size, or small painful lumps known as siliconomas. Women with silicone implants therefore need to have regular scans to detect potential ruptures.


At most private cosmetic surgery clinics, silicone implants tend to be several hundreds of pounds more expensive than saline implants. Whilst saline implants cost approximately £4,300, silicone implants will set you back around £4,700.

In general, the cost of breast implants is not something that clinics can control. Instead, prices are set by the manufacturers. Silicone implants tend to be more expensive due to higher manufacturing costs and more investment into research and development.

What Are the Best Type Of Breast Implants?

Silicone implants are the most popular type of breast implant in the UK, being used in approximately 80% of all boob jobs. The type of breast implant that is best for you however, will depend on the results you want to achieve from breast enlargement surgery. Do you want more natural looking breasts? Are you concerned about your own safety? Do you want to avoid having large scars on your chest? Are you on a budget?

It is essential that you weigh up the pros and cons of both saline and silicone implants, and decide what factors are most important to you when deciding which type of breast implant is best. Your surgeon will also be able to discuss with you the differences between saline and silicone implants, and make a recommendation based on your individual needs. Choosing the right breast implant for you is so important because breast enlargement surgery is a significant investment that can change your life, and you don’t want to end up regretting your decision in the future.

Are There Any Alternatives To Breast Implants?

If you want to surgically enhance the size and shape of your breasts but are unsure about having breast implants, there are a number of other options available to you. Fat transfer breast augmentation is a fairly new procedure that combines liposuction with breast enlargement. It involves you having excess fat removed from areas of your body such as your hips, thighs and stomach and having it injected into your breasts to give them a fuller look. Alternatively, if you are happy with the size of your bust but have sagging or drooping breasts, you can have a breast uplift. This involves you having excess skin removed from your breasts to pull them into a higher position, making them appear fuller and more pert.

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