Who's getting breast implants?

Brian K. Brzowski, MD
Article by
Ogden Plastic Surgeon

Sitting in an examination chair in a plastic surgeon’s office is the last place this 36 year old mother of four ever thought she’d find herself. As she consoles her 1 year old daughter in her car seat, her other kids play with crayons in the floor. Eighteen months of talking to friends, reading everything she can get her hands on, and spending hour after hour in front of a computer screen scouring the Internet has led her to this point – finally gathering herself together to talk about breast implants.

The progressive effects of pregnancy, aging, and now even some weight loss as the result of a healthier lifestyle have created a deflated appearance of her chest. Though never busty, she’s unhappy with the loss of fullness that has led to a proportion that she doesn't like – the dreaded pear shape.

Following her examination and in depth discussion with her plastic surgeon, she schedules her surgery. A few short weeks later, she is in the department store, trying on bras and eying out a swimsuit for her upcoming cruise to the Bahamas; a pre-children promise made by her husband and now set to be kept. Only her husband and a few close friends and family members know the need for this shopping excursion, but she does it with a little grin.

This parable represents the majority of patients in most plastic surgeon’s offices. They are your neighbor, your daughter, and your fellow church member. Although you may not know it, your mother, your boss, your co-worker, and your scrap booking partner have likely had breast surgery or are strongly considering it.

Why are they doing it? As a consequence of the typical changes of aging, weight loss, and pregnancy, women who were previously satisfied with their breast size and proportion are now having breast augmentation. Equally, women who’ve never had sufficient volume in the breasts are realizing the benefits from increasing their breast size.

What happens after they do it? First and foremost, clothing choices are simplified. When shopping for dresses and pantsuits, patients who’ve undergone breast augmentation don’t have nearly as much difficulty with needing different sizes for the top and bottom. Padded bras can become a relic of the past, and swimsuit tops are easier to size and wear.

Who decides their implant size? The patients do. Very similar to deciding what to have for dinner and which color car to buy, the customer (read patient) makes the best judgment as to what they would like most. I find that by allowing the patient to select her implant size, she is able to expect a long, satisfying experience with her resulting breast size. A deliberate and careful sizing process prior to surgery ensures that the patient has had ample time to consider the available options and to ultimately obtain a pleasing, long-lasting result.

What about all of those “BAD” silicone implants? Up until November of 2006, silicone breast implants were limited to select groups of patients. As a culmination of approximately 14 years of scientific research to determine a link between a variety of medical illnesses and silicone gel breast implants, none was ever found. This prompted the FDA to rescind almost all of the limitations on use of these implants, and the numbers of them used throughout the country has skyrocketed. Although saline filled implants are still used more than silicone implants on average throughout the country, my experience here in Utah has swung totally in favor of silicone over saline. Whereas we implanted silicone implants 20% of the time prior to November of 2006, since then, we now use silicone implants 80% of the time – this is entirely patient choice. When patients have the opportunity to consider all their options, most will decide in favor of silicone because of the superior softness and resistance to form ripples.

Isn’t it really expensive? In comparison to other items that we consumers purchase such as big screen TV’s, and cars, implants represent an excellent dollar value. While the services of an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon and the use of state of the art operative and anesthetic techniques cannot be priced at a “bargain basement” level, the return on the money spent often exceeds that of any other purchase one might make. Although it is very typical and even expected that the TV and the car will become obsolete, wear out, and just seem plain outdated in 5-10 years (or less), a successful breast augmentation has the potential for a lifetime of enjoyment and reward. In situations where the initial financial outlay is difficult to manage, most offices will have multiple different options for payment and financing.

If you’re considering a breast augmentation, get your eyes off the billboards, and turn off the radio. Your best way to find a plastic surgeon that will provide you the best chance at a favorable result will already be familiar to you and your friends because of work that he or she has done. The recommendation of your primary care physician and other health care workers can’t be overestimated. After you’ve had a chance to narrow down a few choices, I generally advise patients to visit three offices and see where they feel the most comfortable. Offices where you feel like another cog in the wheel or an imposition on the doctor’s time will be easy to tell. If you feel valued and listened to, and your doctor’s credentials and expertise in the field of breast augmentation are worthy, you can rest easy that you’ve made a good choice.

Remember, it’s not always about flaunting what ya got; it’s about regaining what you lost!