A boob job’s not something you want to rush into. Nor is it something you should do for a boyfriend or to save a marriage. And if you choose to go through with this popular cosmetic procedure, you should have a clear understanding of why you’re doing it.
Almost 300,000 American women got breast enlargements via implants in 2010. That’s a 40% increase from ten years earlier. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it comes at a time of increased scrutiny from both the FDA and public watchdog organizations – to say nothing of some of the surgeons who perform the procedure who emphasize that, if you’re going to do it, do it for the right reasons.
Breast augmentation refers to enlargement and/or breast reconstruction done with prosthetic implants. The operation is widely performed across the United States and costs between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on where you live and the surgeon you choose.
You might want to get breast augmentation surgery. Truth be told, you might be an ideal candidate for it. But don’t plop down your Visa card and book your appointment without consideration of the financial, physical and psychological factors involved in the process.
Two Good Reasons to Get Breast Implants
Breasts contribute to your positive self image as a woman. To that end, there is plenty of evidence illustrating that breast implants can raise self-esteem, feelings of sex appeal and sexual satisfaction. The effects appears most pronounced in the first decade after the procedure.
With this in mind, there are good reasons to get breast implants. At the top of that list? Breast reconstruction, to develop breast shape and size again after a procedure like a mastectomy – surgical removal of a breast, usually done to prevent breast cancer.
While the replacement rates aren’t kind to women who pursue this option, implants can re-develop breast shape and structure, giving confidence back to women who undergo this sometimes life-saving, yet traumatic treatment.
Another good reason to get breast implants: you’ve thought it through, with at least six months to think about why you’re doing it. You might want implants to treat asymmetry of the breasts (some women have a D cup for one breast and a B for the other as an example), or you’re simply looking for an increase in size. There’s nothing wrong with that – provided you know your reasons and you’ve considered the factors that led to your decision.
Three Reasons NOT to Get Breast Implants
Of course, there’s a flip side to this argument. There are physical, financial and psychological factors that should be considered prior to the surgery, and it’s therefore not something to do as a spur of the moment decision.
Don’t get breast implants for a man, either. This is your body, after all, and though some women get implants to save a marriage or relationship, many surgeons say it’s a bad idea, and won’t perform the surgery during a rough patch, like a divorce or break up.
Finally, and perhaps, the most important, don’t get breast implants to magically transform into someone else. This is where screening becomes important; while implants have a very immediate and noticeable impact, they’re not meant to mask symptoms of depression, drug or alcohol abuse, as David K. Wellisch, PhD and professor of psychiatry at UCLA told WebMD.
Wellisch’s observation illustrates a dark side to breast implant surgery. Studies show that satisfaction with the procedure fades after about two decades. And it’s not uncommon for depression and mental illness to return, with risk of alcohol and drug abuse – and sometimes worse – as she progresses through life.
Saline or Silicone
There are two kinds of breast implants used for enlargement. While they’re both housed in a silicone shell, it’s the liquid inside that determines the camp in which you plant your flag.
Saline implants are silicone shells filled with sterile salt water (saline). The potential risks to your health if saline implants leak are lower than with silicone, as they’re simply made of water. The FDA requires that patients be at least 18 years old before getting saline implants.
Silicone implants are also silicone shells, with the difference being they’re filled with a silicone gel. Though some women claim they look more realistic than saline implants, they present a greater health risk if they leak.
The FDA banned sale of silicone implants in 1992 for safety concerns, and reinstated two companies, Mentor and Allergan, to sell silicone in 2006 on the condition they both conduct long term health studies of the women who underwent the procedure.
A third company, Sientra, entered the market in 2010.
Roughly 20% of women who get silicone breast implants, and half of women who get them for reconstructive purposes, have them removed within ten years.
Then two years ago, in 2011, the FDA released the findings of the Mentor and Allergan studies, combined with its own review of scientific literature, that roughly 20% of women who get silicone breast implants, and half of women who get them for reconstructive purposes, have them removed within ten years.
Another finding – the longer a woman has silicone implants, the more likely she is to experience complications.
Bear in mind that a woman’s breasts can develop well into her late teens or even early twenties. For that reason, the FDA requires women be at least 18 to receive saline implants, and 22 for silicone.
Before the procedure, it’s customary to meet with the surgeon for a medical evaluation and to discuss what the patient is looking for. The surgeon will review your medical history and any prescriptions you may be taking, which he may ask you to stop prior to the surgery.
Many surgeons also use this time to delve further in to the patient’s motives for having the procedure done. This isn’t a bad thing, for reasons we’ll discuss later in this article.
The procedure itself generally takes between one to two hours. You’ll be given an anesthetic and put-under, during which the surgeon will make incisions under your breasts, arms or around your nipples, depending on your body, type and size of the implant.
He’ll then put the breast implant into a pocket above or below the chest muscle and close the cuts, either with sutures or surgical tape.
Your breasts will likely be covered in gauze for several days. The surgeon may prescribe pain killers to make you more comfortable immediately after the surgery. The swelling should eventually subside.
Complications and Maintenance
The procedure is not without the potential for complications. Breast pain, scarring and bleeding are among the more common side effects that patients experience.
There is speculation that implant leakage into the breast area may have adverse health effects. Saline implants are safer in this scenario, as a rupture will simply cause them to deflate, and the liquid can safely be absorbed by the body, but a silicone leak or rupture is more difficult to spot, as it may leave no evidence that the implants have been compromised. This is called a ‘silent rupture’.
There’s ongoing debate as to the health risks involved with silicone leakage into the breast area. At present, the FDA says there is no evidence of higher risk of breast cancer from such an event, though it suggests a ruptured implant be removed. To address this many surgeons recommend that women with silicone implants get an MRI scan three years after the procedure, and every two years for the duration of the implants’ lifetime.
You should also consider the changing nature of your breasts; pregnancy, genes, medical conditions and the simple process of ageing can all affect the look of your breasts. Implants can combine with these factors to develop wrinkling, sagging and an asymmetrical appearance.
Implants can also lead to capsular contraction, in which tissue hardens around the implants, causing pain.
Regardless of complications, implants are not lifetime devices and will most likely need to be replaced, especially if they’re silicone. You may replace for reasons other than safety concerns – some women simply remove them by choice – but it’s highly probable they may necessitate a further trip to the table at some point in the future.
Breast Implants and Health
While the procedure is generally safe, the FDA cannot conclusively say that silicone implants, more specifically silicone leakage, does not increase risk of breast cancer. At least one organization claims that implants increase risk of a rare form of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
Estimates put the rate of implant ruptures between one and two percent each year.
A greater concern perhaps is the the impact that breast implants can have on mental health. According to this article, women who pursue implants are more likely to have low self esteem related to their physical appearance. The issue appears to get worse after the novelty of implants wears off – roughly 20 years after the procedure – as several studies suggest women with breast implants are at higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse. And disturbingly, suicide.
Some argue that breast implants don’t trigger mental health issues. Rather, women who pursue this cosmetic treatment are simply more likely to have suffered teasing and low self-esteem. But it does underscore the need to weigh psychological factors in the decision to pursue breast implants, and that the surgeon you choose to perform the procedure should discuss these issues with you.
On some occasions, a good surgeon may turn patients away.
Natural Breast Augmentation
Breasts are natural, after all, and the thought of implant surgery may seem daunting to some women. There’s nothing wrong with the procedure, assuming you’ve considered the factors involved, but if you’d prefer not to go there, consider natural breast augmentation.
A natural breast enhancement supplement is a two or three part system, often consisting of a daily supplement and a lifting or firming gel. The supplement fortifies the body with phytoestrogens that help to develop breast volume. And the firming gel may reduce the appearance of ‘sagging’.
Try Total Curve – a two part system with the supplement and the lifting gel. There’s a secret ingredient in the Total Curve firming gel though, called Volufiline, which is clinically proven to increase breast volume by up to 8.4%.
You’re not going to magically turn into a D cup with Total Curve, or with any natural breast therapy supplement, for that matter. What you will do, though, is get youthful-looking breasts, with lift and ‘perkiness’. And perhaps even enjoy a slight increase in size.
Breast Implant Surgery: Yes Or No?
The bottom line on breast implants? Look in the mirror. Do you see yourself or someone you want to become? Breast implants may be most beneficial to the woman who observes herself and has realistic expectations of what she’ll get from the procedure. Give it time. Think it through. Then, in six months or so, if you’re still interested, consult with a surgeon.