Thy cup (size) runneth over

Breanne George

For some, breast implants bolster busts, self-esteem

The options for breast implants vary by type of implant, size, shape, projection and incision point, and can cost on average $5,000. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Breast implants are hotter than ever among celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Tara Reid who want to enhance their breast size with the intent of boosting their sex appeal.

But breast implants are not just popular among the rich and famous.

Mentor resident Kelly, 37 (who requested her full name not be used), made the decision to enhance her cup size from a 34 A to 34 D after years of feeling insecure.

“My chest size always bugged me growing up because my sister had these big boobs, and I felt like I was cheated,” she said.

Her decision was further swayed when her daughter became a teenager and started “looking older” than her in that way. Although Kelly wanted to get breast implants, she hesitated because her husband disapproved.

“Eventually, he just got sick of me talking about it,” she said. “He told me ‘Do whatever it takes to make you happy.'”

Kelly chose Dr. Janet Blanchard in Mentor as her cosmetic surgeon, primarily based on the location. She immediately felt at ease during the initial consultation because her doctor recommended a cup size that would give her a natural look.

“I told the doctor I didn’t want to look like Pamela Anderson,” she joked. “I just want to look proportioned.”

Women interested in breast implants should do research before making a decision.

Dr. Robert Stroup, chief plastic surgeon at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, recommends researching numerous cosmetic surgeons via the Internet to ensure they are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

According to the ABPS Web site, a doctor who is board certified has graduated from a qualified medical school and trained as a resident surgeon for at least five years. In addition, certified surgeons have to pass a rigorous oral and written exam.

Since different cosmetic surgeons specialize in certain types of surgeries, Stroup said it is vital to find someone with a high-volume breast surgery practice.

“Cost is not a predicator of quality,” he added. “More important is surgeon experience and training.”

The cost of the surgery varies among individual practices, but Stroup said the average cost is $5,000 for the breast implants, anesthesia and surgery fee. Similarly, Kelly spent a total of $6,000 on her implants.

After research, Stroup said the next step is setting up a consultation, in which a cosmetic surgeon will discuss the various options to consider such as the type of implant, size, shape, projection and incision preference. These considerations are based both on personal preference and body type.

Stroup said saline-filled implants are currently the only option for women getting implants for the first time, because silicone is no longer FDA approved. Saline-filled implants are safer because the same salt water used in saline is used in IVs. In case of leakage, the body naturally absorbs the water.

Implants can also be round (designed for a greater width than length) or tear-drop shaped (designed for a greater length than width). Another consideration is low, medium or high projection, Stroup said.

Incisions can take place under or above the chest muscle, through the nipple, armpit or belly button, Kelly said. Although she initially wanted the incision through the nipple to hide scars, her doctor recommended the incision be made underneath the muscle.

“By going through the nipple, she told me you pretty much never have any sensation there again,” Kelly said.

An incision through the armpit has the most risks because of the major nerve located there. If the nerve is damaged during surgery, feeling and function in the arm could be affected, Kelly said.

“That annoying falling-asleep feeling would be permanently in your arm,” she said.

All breast implants have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, so a future replacement surgery is inevitable, Stroup said. The implants will eventually deflate causing a noticeable loss of volume in the breast.

Despite the inherent risks, Kelly said she feels great about herself now.

“I can actually wear a bikini and not feel self-conscious,” she said.

Although she notices some extra attention, especially in the summertime when she wears a bikini or more revealing outfits, she said most people do not notice any difference.

“It’s a personal decision,” Kelly said. “People do it for different reasons. I didn’t do it for attention, just insecurity. But I don’t regret it. Not one bit.”

Senior criminal justice and psychology major Danielle Flickinger agreed that it is a choice that should be based on self-esteem and not vanity issues.

“Each woman needs to think about the reason they want breast implants,” she said. “Are they doing it because it’s the popular thing to do at the moment or to improve their self-esteem? Just because it’s a popular trend doesn’t mean it will be six months from now.”

Contact features reporter Breanne George at [email protected].