16 Jun How Will Breast Implants Change Your Life?
Breast implants boost self-esteem for many women, but some feel let down.
In fact, she adds, the preparation for breast implant surgery pushed her into a healthier lifestyle. “I got into the vitamin regimen, quit smoking. It was a big opportunity for me to be a healthier person. It felt like everything was going in the right direction. It was so exciting.”
Breast Implants: Expectations vs. Reality
Breast augmentation — breast implant surgery — is the top cosmetic surgery performed today, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. A total of 347,524 women had the surgery in 2007.
It’s a major step for most women, and often a positive one. Studies have shown that breast implants can help boost self-esteem, body image, and sexual satisfaction.
But studies have also pointed to the critical need for careful screening by doctors, and self-awareness among women, before breast implant surgery.
Here are realistic insights from doctors and patients about the impact of cosmetic breast implants, and how to tell in advance whether implants may help you.
Breast Implants & Body Image
Laurie Casas, MD, associate professor of surgery at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, is a contributing author of a textbook on breast surgery.
Nearly half her patients are like Kearney — young women whose breasts never developed, a condition called micromastia. “She had two nipples on a flat chest,” she explains. “It looked like a prepubescent boy’s chest.”
Mommy Makeover & Breast Implants
Here’s another of Casa’s patients: 41-year-old Kristen Chase, who was “a generous 36B” before she had four children in seven years, she says. “After my fourth child, my breast tissue was just a deflated sack. My body bounced right back after the pregnancies, but my breasts didn’t. I wanted my body back.”
Women like Chase grew up with a completely different mind-set, says Casas. “They don’t have body image issues. These women went through their formative years feeling good about themselves. They work out, feel great. They just want the breast to be the nice normal size they had before.”
The first time Chase looked into breast implant surgery, silicone implants weren’t FDA approved. With her broad chest, a saline implant just wasn’t appropriate. “It would have protruded too much,” she says. “That was not the look I wanted.”
Her result with silicone? “It’s very natural, not an artificial breast look, not the type you see on the street and know immediately is a fake,” she says. Another key point: “I’ve had zero sensitivity loss in my breasts.”
Breast Implant Replacement & Other Realities
Women who’ve had breast implants and their doctors agree: It’s very important to go into surgery understanding the full financial costs — or you’re bound to be dismayed.
- Health insurance does not cover the surgery.
- Insurance also does not cover any follow-up surgeries. Yet complications do occur, and revision surgeries are sometimes necessary to correct a problem.
- Also, both saline and silicone implants usually have to be replaced at some point because of breakage.
Postpartum women — finished with pregnancies — won’t have so many breast changes, especially if they have kept their weight under control, says Casas.
She’s seen a handful of 18-year-olds and talks them into waiting awhile — to see if this is what they really want. “This is a major decision, and maturity level makes a difference. They’re the ones who have to take care of the implants, continue with follow-up.”
“We impress on them that this is a long-term project … a lifelong journey,” Casas says. “There’s no reason to rush it. We will only move forward if they can make that commitment.”
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