Saline solution

I’ve been seeing mention of people getting saline solution injections for cosmetic reasons, e.g. breast enlargement, wrinkles, acne scars, even genitals. And I’ve heard of people doing the procedures themselves, without the assistance of a professional.

First of all, isn’t “saline solution” just simple salt water? If not, what’s the difference? Are people simply injecting salt water into their bodies? And what keeps the solution in the area where it’s injected, rather than immediately being carried throughout the body?

Saline solution takes a while to diffuse away from an injection site. I’ve heard of (and seen pics of, although for the life of me, I can’t remember why I looked) people who’ve injected (they call it ‘infused’, for some reason) large volumes of saline into their scrotums, inflating them to preposterous proportion - apparently it takes several hours for normality to resume.

Very. Bad. Idea.

I’m just sayin- home plastic surgery can never be a good idea.

Not even home perms are usually a good idea. Home elective surgery? Yikes!

Just doing my part to fight ignorance.

But is it really just salt water? I know that sometimes doctors or nurses give patients a saline IV. Is this just salt water, and what is its advantage over mere water?

Yes, although fairly dilute salt water.

It has the same salinity as blood. In highly simplified terms that has two major advantages.

If you inject someone with large quantities of water that contains noticably less salt than blood, eg the procedures you describe, it will kill the tissue around the injection site, resulting in effects very similar to a severe burn.

If you inject someone with small quantities of fresh water over a prolonged period of time, as in a saline IV drip, then the water will eventually flush the salt out of their body and kill them. By injecting water that has the same salt concentration as blood you prevent the water form diluting the body’s natural salt levels and everything remains hunky dory…

Yes, saline solution is just salt water. Specifically, it has the right amount of sodium chloride to match what’s supposed to be in your blood.

The reason why you don’t want to inject pure water into your blood is that it would dilute your blood salinity, which screws up your body chemistry. (See water intoxication).

Funny story,

My dad, when he was in med school, mentioned that sometimes the students would hook up to a saline solution drip to cure hangovers. Obviously there are other ingredients that make a hangover bad, but this surely took care of the hydration problem.

That would be “normal” saline, i.e. 0.9% sodium chloride in sterile water.
It will stay put for a short period of time because it is roughly the same osmolality as plasma, and so there is little gradient for osmosis or diffusion to occur.

Occasionally it is medically necessary to use hypertonic (3.0%) saline to correct low serum sodium or hypotonic (half normal or 0.45%) saline to correct high serum sodium. These solutions are very, very risky to use and have to be used with great caution, by experienced medical people, i.e. not “at home” cosmetic surgeons.

A common alternative to normal saline is 5% dextrose, which is sterile water with glucose in it. This solution also has the same osmolality as plasma, but as it has no electrolytes it tends to diffuse out from the intravascular space into the tissues when used intravenously. It is not a good idea to use 5% dextrose in diabetics. Sometimes we can use 10% dextrose or 50% dextrose for people with very low blood sugars, but again, very cautiously.

1 litre of 0.9% saline= 9g NaCl, 154mmol Na, 154mmol Cl.

Link about IV fluids (it’s a site for anaesthetists, so it’s a bit technical)/