“Lovely Pair”

One of the perks of my job is a constant stream of happy patients who send me little gestures of appreciation like cards, flowers, etc. I received this lovely card (picture) recently. Guess what surgery this patient had?

You got it! Breast Augmentation! Probably one of my favourite procedures and certainly the most popular.

BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) recently published their yearly audiit figures on cosmetic procedures performed by their members, including myself, for 2010. Top of the list out of 38,274 procedures performed was still breast implant surgery. In total, 9,430 breast augmentation was performed, up 10% from the year before. My personal figures were 283 in 2009 and 310 in 2010 which is exactly a 10% increase as well. This is despite the economic downturn and I think it is because people are becoming more selective in their choice of surgeons knowing that any complications can result in more expenditure which they can ill afford. The trend is moving away from the mass cosmetic clinics that advertise prolifically in the media and undercut their prices to attract more patients.

The recent uproar over the cheaper PIP implants have also highlighted the fact that cheaper prices may mean poorer quality implants are used. All women with PIP implants are now advised to have an ultrasound to detect implant rupture and have them removed or replaced. If the implants are intact, then the patient needs to have regular ultrasounds to monitor the implants or have them removed and replaced anyway. If you do not know the make of your implants, please contact your surgeon to check this. Important message to all my patients – I have never used the PIP implants either in the NHS or in the private sector.

Breast implant surgery, technically, is probably one of the least demanding procedures that plastic surgeons perform. It takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to perform in experienced hands; recovery is generally within a week and most patients experience very little discomfort. Complications are extremely rare and in my audit of 1000 patients, stand at less than 1%. Patients then can’t wait to show them off in bras, bikinis and clothes which they have always wanted to wear but couldn’t before. The general consensus is ‘the best money they have ever spent’.

However, no two women have the same body frame, breast shape and quality of skin or the same desire in terms of outcome. The concept of one implant for all seasons is gone. The test of a good plastic surgeon is in the art of chosing the right shape, width, height , projection and volume of implant for each individual patient. This is not easy but  if the surgeon gets it right, it is what makes the difference between any old ‘boob job’ and that ‘lovely pair’.

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