IDEAL Breast Implants: The Next Step for Saline

IDEAL Breast Implants: The Next Step for Saline

Breast augmentation has been one of the top five cosmetic surgery procedures in the U.S. for over 10 years, and in 2008, breast augmentation finally captured the #1 spot. Will development of the newest breast implant innovation, IDEAL IMPLANTS®, help breast surgery reign in the coming years also?

In terms of today's most popular implant type, saline implants have a clear edge on silicone, the original implant standard. According to recent ASAPS statistics, of the 355,671 recorded breast augmentation surgeries performed in 2008, 53.9% used saline implants and 46.1% used silicone implants. Saline implants, which were FDA-approved in 2000, have been giving silicone some healthy competition ever since the latter's safety ban in the 90s. But now that IDEAL IMPLANTS, which are completely saline-based, seem destined to appear at a surgeon's office near you, industry professionals and prospective patients alike are buzzing that the IDEAL IMPLANT could overtake silicone once and for all.

What's the Deal With IDEAL IMPLANTS?

Invented by the former president of the Dallas Society of Plastic Surgeons, the IDEAL IMPLANT is a saline implant that reportedly uses no artificial materials or fillers. While standard saline implants use a silicone outer shell that is filled with saline, IDEAL IMPLANTS have both a saline outer shell and filler, so no silicone is used for the implant. The IDEAL IMPLANT's innovative design consists of differently sized saline shells that overlap and graduate to make a uniform, convex shell structure. The saline shell structure is inserted through a small chest incision and then filled with a pre-specified amount of saline.

But how do IDEAL IMPLANTS compare to silicone and standard saline implants in terms of appearance, safety and performance?

The IDEAL Difference

Many patients and plastic surgeons compare types of breast implants based on important criteria such as consistency, shape, rupturing, health risks and cost. Using these criteria, let's find out what sets IDEAL IMPLANTS apart from standard saline and silicone implants.

Shape and Consistency

In terms of the size, shape and consistency of the implant, both saline and silicone implants offer many options to choose from. The desired size of the breast implant is measured by the cc amount of silicone gel or saline solution that fills the implant shell. Implant shapes can be round or teardrop, and the implant shell can also be smooth or textured. In this category, the biggest difference between silicone, saline and IDEAL implants will occur in the consistency.

  • Silicone Implants: Silicone gel is currently available in a few different consistencies, the newest of which is cohesive silicone gel. Cohesive silicone gel implants are popularly known as "gummy bear" breast implants. Since the cohesive gel is reportedly firmer than past silicone varieties, with a more gelatinous consistency, it's said to have an incredibly realistic feel and movement. This thicker gel also means that the implant isn't very prone to collapsing, wrinkling or distortion in different positions.
  • Saline Implants: Standard saline implants reportedly have a somewhat bouncier consistency than silicone implants do. This is because saline implants have a saline filler inside a silicone implant shell—saline is thinner in consistency than silicone. Because of this difference, standard saline implants may collapse slightly when upright, or wrinkle or fold around the shell edge when overfilled.
  • IDEAL IMPLANTS: Because IDEAL IMPLANTS use several interwoven saline shells to create the outer implant structure, the breast implant is better supported, less prone to sloshing and wrinkling, and can also mimic the firmer consistency of silicone implants.


Implant ruptures have been a common problem for patients ever since breast implants were first introduced. Health complications from ruptured, leaking silicone implants were the cause of silicone's ban from public use for many years. Also, a ruptured implant means additional surgery will be required to repair and replace the defective implant. Since no type of breast implant is reported to last forever, it's crucial to know the consequences of implant rupture.

  • Silicone Implants: Not only do silicone leaks pose a health threat, as previously mentioned, a further concern is the difficulty involved in detecting a silicone rupture. Because of the firmness of the silicone gel, a leaking implant doesn't always evidence itself on the patient's exterior. For this reason, a silicone implant rupture is referred to as a "silent rupture”. It's true that the newer, cohesive gel "gummy" breast implants use a cross-linked silicone that's less dangerous. Still, silicone implant patients must undergo MRI scans every couple of years to verify no ruptures have occurred.
  • Saline Implants: Unlike with silicone, ruptured saline implants are quite easy to detect. Because of saline's more fluid consistency, a rupture causes the implant to deflate as the saline leaks out into the system. A physical examination is all that's necessary to determine if a rupture has occurred. Additionally, in the event a saline implant does rupture and leak, the natural saline filler is harmlessly reabsorbed into the body.
  • IDEAL IMPLANTS: Like with standard saline implants, a ruptured IDEAL breast implant will be easily spotted by a physician, as the implant will begin to deflate. Also, because these implants are filled post insertion, replacement of the ruptured IDEAL IMPLANT can be done using just local anesthesia. Replacing silicone implants is often a more complicated procedure that requires general anesthesia.

Other Health Risks

Aside from issues related to ruptured implants, other possible health risks associated with breast implants can include capsular contracture (development of hardened scar tissue), pain, infection, and loss of sensation in the breasts and nipples. Women who have children after undergoing breast augmentation may also experience difficulty with breast feeding.

These health risks are possibilities with all types of breast implant surgery. All breast augmentation patients can best avoid these problems by following all pre and post-op instructions and guidelines, having their breast implant surgery performed by a licensed, experienced cosmetic surgeon, and fully researching their options in breast enhancement before undergoing surgery.


The cost of breast augmentation is largely determined by the region where the surgery is performed, and the size and type of implant used. According to the ASAPS' 2008 statistics, the national average cost for silicone breast implants was $3,885 and the average cost for saline breast implants was $3,603. Since IDEAL IMPLANTS are still undergoing clinical trials, the projected cost for these implants isn't yet determined. Although, since saline implants generally cost less than silicone implants, it's possible IDEAL breast implants will range somewhere in between the two. Once they're widely available, IDEAL implants will likely see price fluctuations based on the demand.

It's important to keep in mind that these breast augmentation cost averages are strictly referring to the initial implant surgery. When creating a breast augmentation budget, many patients forget about inherent added costs. For example, if you are undergoing breast implant surgery in your late teens to early 30s, the odds that you'll require a second, and maybe a third, additional breast surgery in your lifetime is quite high—even if you don't develop serious complications like capsular contracture or an implant rupture, which always necessitate further treatment.

We've confirmed that saline implants already cost less on average than silicone implants, but saline and the new IDEAL IMPLANTS may have another economic edge over silicone. With the required regularity of MRI scans post silicone implant surgery, many physicians project that total MRI costs in a patient's lifetime will surpass the cost of the implant surgery itself. For many women, these combined costs may be too exorbitant to consider. If you have doubts about your surgery costs, remember to ask your physician about financing options and possible insurance coverage.

Will IDEAL IMPLANTS be Right For You?

With the possibility of IDEAL IMPLANTS becoming publicly available by next year, patients should follow the progress of IDEAL IMPLANTS both in its clinical trials and in the news to learn about updates. If you are considering breast augmentation in the nearer future, or are more interested in silicone or saline implants, it's best to undergo a breast augmentation consultation with a trusted plastic surgeon near you.

By meeting with an experienced plastic surgeon prior to surgery, breast implant patients can get expert advice and detailed information about their individual options. Furthermore, patients can have a physical assessment to identify their personal enhancement needs, view breast augmentation before and after photos, and possibly glimpse what their own breast implants would look like, with the aid of computer imaging technology.

If you're interested in scheduling a breast augmentation consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon in your area, contact our customer representatives today to set up an appointment!

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