During her teens, Anna, 29, of Placentia, filled out a 32D-sized bra. As she got older, however, and after some weight fluctuations, she was dissatisfied to find her breasts had decreased by at least one cup size. Missing her old curves, Anna decided to take matters into her own hands - or rather, the hands of a plastic surgeon.
"I was originally going to go in for a lift, but the advising doctor told me that a better solution would be to replace the space where I had lost mass," Anna says. "I think the doctor did a fantastic job, [but] I also think my implants were too big. I feel embarrassed about how large my breasts are: 32DD."
Why do women opt for them?
Naturally, there are both advantages and disadvantages to having a breast augmentation. For women who have always been embarrassed about their lack of cleavage, or whose breasts, like Anna's, have changed in shape and size, surgery may be an attractive option. Many women report that having the procedure has helped raise their self-esteem.
A lot of women seeking breast surgery are looking to make their bodies more proportionate, according to Dr. Michael Niccole, a board-certified plastic surgeon at CosmetiCare in Newport Beach who has 27 years of experience performing breast surgery. "These women may have very wide hips, but small upper torsos," Dr. Niccole says, explaining that breast implants can create a more balanced look.
Another large portion of breast surgery patients have had children and want to restore the appearance of their breasts before pregnancies and breastfeeding. "The breasts can deflate after having kids - women may have lost 25-30% of breast volume," he says. "A third category of women are as flat as a board and want to look more feminine."
What could go wrong?
"Some women have an infection or bleeding," says Dr. Hootan Daneshmand, who's been practicing cosmetic surgery for 11 years and performs about 300 breast augmentations a year at the Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute, with offices in Newport Beach and Foothill Ranch. "The risk of bleeding is about 2-3%, while the infection rate is 1-2%. About 5-7% of patients will experience implant firmness in the first year after the surgery because of capsule contracture."
You should also note, Dr. Daneshmand says, that breast augmentations don't necessarily last forever. If you get implants in your 20s, you will likely need to have one or a couple of additional procedures done later in life, often to correct implant leakage. "A small hole or tear in the implant can cause it to deflate, and you might notice that one side looks smaller than the other."
Find a qualified surgeon
Dr. Niccole estimates that 98-99% of women who get breast implants are happy with the results - providing that they choose an experienced, certified plastic surgeon.
This is something Stephanie, 27, has been taking into account. The Fullerton resident wants to get a breast augmentation to "lift and increase" her breasts. "The only thing I've done is talk to my friends about successful doctors," Stephanie says. "There are so many 'chop shops' these days that you have to be careful."
They're not cheap, either!
There's no getting around the fact that breast augmentations are expensive, costing anywhere from $3,000 to $18,000. While it's great to get a good deal on, say, milk at the supermarket, don't go looking for "Buy one boob, get one free" deals - this is hardly a time to pinch pennies. "If it's too cheap, you will most likely be sacrificing quality," Dr. Daneshmand warns.
Silicone or saline?
For the past 14 years, silicone breast implants have been banned, as the FDA requested research into possible risks and side effects. Now, a new, safer version of the implant has been introduced, presenting women with a choice: silicone or saline? "Silicone gel feels more like a natural breast and there's no rippling or wrinkling, as there can be with saline," says Dr. Kelly Gallego of Gallego Plastic Surgery in Irvine.
But judging by statistics, the procedure shows no signs of decreasing in popularity anytime soon. "Women," Dr. Niccole concludes, "want to have perfect breasts."