Saline Breast Implants vs. Silicone Implants
Why is there a cost difference between saline and silicone breast implants?
Cosmetic breast augmentation is one of the most popular procedures performed every year by plastic surgeons and the difference between saline and silicone breast implants is an important factor in making the choice for surgery. Patients present to the surgeon’s office with different requests, desires and expectations. With the advent of the internet, a wealth of information is available on cosmetic surgery to prospective patients. Because breast enhancement surgery is so common, most patients have a friend or family member who has had this surgery or knows something about it.
In making a decision to proceed with breast augmentation, financial considerations of the costs of saline vs. silicone gel implants are certainly an important factor. Saline implants are less expensive than silicone gel implants. This is due a number of reasons. Gel implants are more expensive to produce and the manufacturers pass this cost off to the patients. However the large implant makers, Mentor and Inamed provide more financial reimbursement in their warranties on silicone gel implants. Additionally when following recommended FDA guidelines, maintenance costs of having regular MRI to assess implant integrity make gel implants more expensive. In most cases the cost of these regular MRI studies will not be covered by insurance. The future may change and the government could modify its stance on regular MRI evaluation of silicone breast implants. Finally despite the extensive FDA studies of silicone gel implants, the past history of litigation concerning these products no doubt adds a perceived if not real liability expense to the implant makers.
Implant failure also contributes to the cost of breast implants. Saline implant leakage is easily detectable and can be promptly addressed with replacement. All breast implants have a lifetime replacement warranty, which covers the implant cost. If the failure occurs within ten years of implant insertion, anesthesia and facility fees are usually covered. This is also true for gel implants. Implant failure with gel implants may require additional diagnostic studies with increased costs however the warranty in the first ten years allows higher reimbursement from the implant makers. Despite all of these reasons, Carmel Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Richard Linderman believes both Inamed and Mentor produce a safe effective medical device with an excellent warranty.