What to Do With Your Old Saline-Filled Breast Implants

Many women have undergone breast augmentation with saline (salt water) filled breast implants when they were younger. Although saline-filled implants may have a bit more of a “water bag” feel to them than silicone gel-filled implants when held in your hand, most women have been pleased with their results. With time, however, many changes can occur in women’s breasts due to a variety of factors, including pregnancy, hormones, weight fluctuations, aging, skin quality, and genetics. It is not uncommon for a woman with saline implants to notice a gradual loss of volume in one or both breasts. Patients may even experience some asymmetry due to one or both of their implants slowly losing their saline content, not necessarily equally. Alternatively, a patient may have gradually noticed her weight creep up over the years after her initial surgery, or just noticed gradual breast enlargement absent any appreciable weight gain, which can occur quite commonly as women approach menopause.

“I’m Bigger Than I Want to Be”

If a patient with saline implants has concerns about her breasts being larger than desirable, a simple office solution can be offered. Breasts that are disproportionately large can cause neck, back, or shoulder pain, which is no different from women who start out with naturally large breasts and actually seek a breast reduction.

In a 5-minute, non-surgical office procedure under local anesthesia, saline-filled implants can be emptied of their saline contents, allowing a patient’s breasts to return to their “unaugmented” state. After a few weeks, the breasts should gradually return to their natural appearance as if no breast implants were ever placed. At that point, the patient can discuss her options with her plastic surgeon, which include:

  • Removal of the deflated saline implants and nothing else.
  • Removal and replacement with new appropriately sized implants, either saline-filled or silicone gel-filled.
  • An auto-augmentation with the patient’s own belly fat.
  • Mastopexy (Breast Lift), if indicated.
  • Mastopexy with new implants (“Augmentation Mastopexy”)

Before-and-After Saline Removal

This 50-year-old woman underwent breast augmentation with saline-filled implants 15 years prior to being seen in our office. She was complaining about her breasts feeling too large for the past several years, and had even been seeing a chiropractor for back and neck pain. She underwent a 5-minute procedure under local anesthesia to drain the saline from her implants, and she immediately felt so much better. This is her appearance before and immediately after the removal of saline from both of her implants.


This 22-year-old woman underwent a prior augmentation mastopexy with saline implants several years prior to being seen in our office. She was unhappy with her appearance including concerns of “bottoming out”. She is seen before and immediately after having the saline removed from her implants in the office under local anesthesia.


If you have any questions or any other plastic surgery concerns, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to assist you.

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