Saline Injections: Are They the Next Best Thing?

When deciding what size, profile and shape your breast implants should be, it may be difficult to imagine exactly how they will look on your body. To give their patients an idea of how certain sizes will look on their body frame, doctors use several methods during consultations, including computer imaging and temporary sizers. However, in recent years, some plastic surgeons are offering a new procedure that allows patients to test-drive a bigger bust for a day, with the goal being to afford women the opportunity to try out a more voluminous rack before making a decision on whether they want breast implants.

But how does the procedure work? Are these injections safe? How do they compare to a breast augmentation? Let's explore.

How Do Saline Breast Injections Work?

Known as InstaBreast, this minimally invasive procedure calls for a plastic surgeon to inject saline solution directly into the breasts, instantly giving the patient a larger bust in the 15 to 20 minutes it takes to complete injections on both breasts. It could take several hundreds of cc's to help a woman achieve her goal.

Is There Pain with the Procedure?

Prior to the injections, the area is numbed. Patients should not experience any pain. However, following the procedure, there may be some bruising, which can last for a day or two.

How Long Do Saline Breast Injections Last and Who are They Good For?

While typical sizers are disposable—they’re placed in the patient, and filled with saline until the right "look" is achieved—the act of injecting saline into the breasts to achieve a larger size results is something that will stick around for a day or two, in some cases less. Since saline is salt water, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream within 24 hours of injection and excreted through urination.

Women who have paid for this procedure do so because they are on the fence about getting a breast augmentation and want a better visual than what temporary sizers and computer imaging can provide. With the injections, they get an idea of what their breasts will feel and look like with saline breast implants, and they can test them out for a day before making the ultimate decision. Though this is the primary use of this procedure, some women get injections for special events such as weddings or tropical vacations.

How Do Saline Injections Compare to a Breast Augmentation?

Even though the size of the breasts will increase with the saline injection, the injection will not mimic the appearance of an augmentation exactly. “The feel of saline is sharply dissimilar from an implant, and the appearance is different because the edges diffuse and feather, which an implant does not,” said Dr. Steven Teitelbaum of Santa Monica, associate clinical professor of plastic surgery at the UCLA School of Medicine, in the New York Times article What a Difference a Day Makes.”

Are Saline Breast Injections Safe?

InstaBreast may be a good and safe alternative for those who are seeking to do the procedure on a one-time basis as a means to make a better decision regarding breast augmentation. Still, many board-certified plastic surgeons warn of the downsides, and those risks increase with every round of injections.

“I can’t see that there’s a huge harm in it, but you’re stretching the skin out,” said Dr. Michael C. Edwards of Las Vegas and president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “You’re altering the architecture of the breast. I would be concerned that you would be taking away some intrinsic support in the breast.”

Other surgeons have expressed deeper concerns, such as:

  • Infection due to the introduction of bacteria into the breasts
  • Risk of bleeding
  • Hematomas in the breasts
  • Tissue damage and/or loss
  • Loss of electrolytes due to the absorption of saline solution

The Cost of Saline Breast Injections

This temporary procedure doesn’t come cheap; it ranges from $2,500 to $3,500 per session. According to the New York Times article, one patient paid $3,500 for the injections, and on two different occasions at that. The total cost for both rounds of injections near the cost of an actual breast augmentation (and permanent results).

Some doctors include the procedure at an additional cost (less than $3,500) as part of the consultation process for breast augmentation.

Created October 2016

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