Making Your Decision


Deciding whether to get breast implants is a big decision. Before going forward, you should know as much as you can about the types of implants available, how much they will cost you in the short-term and long-term, and immediate and future health considerations.

Breast Implant Types

There are two types of implants: saline-filled and silicone gel-filled. Saline implants consist of a smooth or textured silicone envelope filled with saline (salt water). Silicone gel implants consist of a smooth or textured silicone envelope filled with silicone gel (a synthetic material). Breast implants also come in different shapes and sizes.  There are different reasons why some individuals prefer certain implants over others.

Implant Costs

In 2016, the all-inclusive cost for initial implant surgery was between $5,000 and $8,000. Silicone gel implants usually cost about $1,000 more than saline implants.

Complications, such as infection, rupture, pain, or asymmetry, are very common. You can read more about breast implant complications hereYou should expect to need additional surgery at some point, which can cost as much, if not more, than the initial surgery. Additional surgery can be needed because of health issues or cosmetic problems, and is rare during the first year but becomes more common every year after that.  Some women have reported developing autoimmune problems or connective tissue disorder after receiving their implants. In addition, breast implants are linked to Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a rare cancer of the immune system.

All breast implants eventually break and leak, which requires removal and replacement or a breast lift.  Leakage is more obvious with saline implants, which usually deflate quickly.  The FDA recommends breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for silicone gel breast implants 3 years after surgery, and every two years after that, to check for a slow leak.  Breast MRIs to check for implant leakage cost about $2,000 and are not usually covered by health insurance, so that is a substantial expense to be aware of.

Health Considerations

Saline Implants

  • All breast implants interfere with mammography, making mammograms less accurate.
  • The silicone envelope of the implant will tear or fall apart over time.
  • That will cause the implant to leak and deflate, which is usually noticeable.
  • The saline is not dangerous but after being in the body it may contain bacteria or mold that can cause infections
  • Textured implants are more likely than smooth implants to cause Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a type of cancer of the immune system.

Silicone Implants

  • All breast implants interfere with mammography, making mammograms less accurate.
  • The silicone envelope of the implant will tear or fall apart over time, causing the implant to leak.
  • Textured implants are more likely than smooth implants to cause Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a type of cancer of the immune system.
  • Leaks aren’t usually obvious, so silicone gel can travel to other parts of your body for years before the leak is detected. Silicone gel can be impossible to remove once it travels to breast tissue or other organs, such as the lungs or liver.
    • To avoid the health risks of leaking silicone gel, women with silicone gel implants need regular breast MRIs to check for silicone gel leaks. The FDA recommends having a breast MRI three years after getting breast implants and every two years after that.
    • Leaking silicone gel can cause pain or swelling. It could cause allergic and/or autoimmune reactions.

If you have a family history or a diagnosis of an autoimmune or connective tissue disease, you should know that implants have not been tested for safety in women with those conditions because of health concerns. You can read more about autoimmune reactions here.