What Causes Ripples in Breast Implants?

By Dr. Jeremy Pyle

Once you've decided you're ready for breast augmentation, you must choose the type of implant that will work best to meet your goals. When doing research to help you decide between silicone or saline implants, you may hear concerns about visible wrinkling or ripples. Here is my professional perspective on why and how this problem occurs, and what you can do to help ensure beautiful results.

Why Do Implants Wrinkle?

Saline implants are much more likely to create visible wrinkles than silicone gel implants because of two factors: their design and the thinner viscosity of saline versus silicone gel. In a saline implant, the sterile saltwater solution moves back and forth within the shell, which can create a "wave" that can sometimes be visible at the skin level. This phenomenon is more common in thinner women, due to the relatively small amount of breast tissue available to disguise the implant. The saline solution flows freely because of its low viscosity. Silicone gel implants contain a thicker silicone substance that does not move freely around the implant like saline does. Cohesive gel ("gummy bear") implants have an even higher viscosity and thicker texture that does not create wrinkling or rippling.  The risk is never zero, but can be minimized.

Prevention and Avoidance

The best way to minimize the risk of rippling is to opt for silicone gel or "gummy bear" implants. If silicone is not a possibility or preference, some plastic surgeons may suggest slightly overfilling saline implants to help prevent them from wrinkling after placement. Also keep in mind that implant placement may affect the possibility of wrinkling, as submuscular implants are less likely to show visible rippling under the skin due to the extra tissue coverage over the implant.