Our Patient talks to Marie Claire magazine about her breast augmentation surgery with cosmetic surgery Mr Nick Percival
How do you truly feel when you hear that someone has had their breasts enlarged? What is your instant reaction when you hear about another woman's boob job? Contempt laced with resentment, perhaps a light dust-ing of snobbery? Well, you're not alone. The first modern silicone breast implant celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and yet it seems we are as conflicted as ever over them - and the women who bear them.
When the women with faulty PIP breast implants started coming forward earlier this year, terrified they were going to rupture and leak low-grade silicone into their bodies, it was impossible to ignore the ripple of censure towards them. The feeling that women who'd had mastectomies 'deserved' sympathy, but it 'served the others right' for having an 'unnecessary' cosmetic procedure in the first place. The hugely negative coverage raised a previously taboo issue, too - why do women judge those who have had their breasts enlarged? Let's be clear: the PIP scandal - which involved 50,000 British women being given French implants illegally made from unregulated silicone - is not a 'punishment for female vanity'; it's the direct result of a disgraceful lack of regulation in Britain, and a cynical disregard for female health.
Would we regard victims with suspicion if materials meant for mattresses had been used for heart valves or artificial limbs? Of course not. The PIP women 'deserve' our compassion as much as the victims of any other hideously botched surgery. And while many of us wouldn't dream of having a boob job, the fact is, many others do, and numbers are rising. Nor is this desire for larger breasts anything new - women have been trying to increase their busts for several centuries, using everything from ground rubber and glass balls, to ox cartilage and paraffin injections.
‘I HAD A BOOB JOB - SO WHAT?'
A British woman goes under the knife for breast enhancement surgery every hour. We asked six women why they did it and how they felt afterwards
‘My breasts used to be non-existent'
Emma Corio, 33, is a graphic designer who went from a B to D cup
'I spent my life worrying about the size of my breasts - I'm quite tall and felt out of proportion. Every time I saw myself naked, I'd feel overwhelming sadness and disappointment. It was never about men. My long-term boyfriend said I looked great, and surgery seemed like such a major step, I worried people would think I was shallow. Finally, I decided life was too short to worry about other people's opinions and I approached Simply Better Breasts for a 3D imaging session that shows how you'd look with implants. Thankfully I don't have that "stuck-on" look - I'm not sure how many colleagues have even noticed yet"
Emma was operated on by Cosmetic Surgery Partners surgeons Mr Nick Percival FRCS. To find out more about Mr Nick Percival please follow this link
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‘My PIP implants leaked'
Zoe Talbot, 36, a beauty therapist, had faulty implants replaced with a safer brand
'When I first found a lump in my breast in April 2011 I was really anxious. I'd had implants, and when doctors ran tests they discovered that one of them had leaked. They told me I had PIP implants and that silicone was leaking directly into my breast tissue and lymph nodes. I was frightened and furious, and had them removed immediately. It was the right thing to do, but I hated going back to my pre-surgery, tomboy look. I felt so insecure. So, a few months ago, I chose to have new implants put back in. I know some people won't understand, but I finally feel like me again'
‘I had a mastectomy'
Emma Rayner, 27, is a legal secretary who went from a B to C cup
'I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2010. It was such a shock, and I think the psychological impact of having a double mastectomy would have been too much to cope with had it not been for breast implants. The support I received from friends and the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer was amazing, but the boob job was my saving grace. I'm getting married next summer and it means a lot to me that I'll be able to wear the kind of dress I've always dreamed about. And I won't even need to wear a bra'
`I got my confidence back'
Jane Shepherd, 36, is co-founder of 4u2 Foods, and went from an A to a C cup
'People express surprise that "someone like me" has had implants. I find myself pulling out pictures to "prove" how flat-chested I was. But it wasn't just physical; it was psychological, too. When my breasts shrunk after breastfeeding, I felt like I'd lost my feminine identity as well. Since I had implants, I feel so confident and recently launched my own business — something I could never have done before. Interestingly, since I've admitted to implants, three other women I know have come clean, too'
THREE THINGS THAT NEED TO HAPPEN TO MAKE IMPLANT SURGERY SAFE
1 No more hard sell. Some high street surgery staff receive commission, which might mean risks not being explained properly.
2 A compulsory implant register. 'This would record the type and make of every implant used in the UK, so doctors could get patient histories immediately,' says Nigel Mercer, consultant plastic surgeon.
3 Licensing for doctors. Create a register of doctors licensed to perform specific cosmetic surgery procedures.