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October 5, 2009

By Natalia Real,  Featured Columnist

Breast enlargement is major surgery. And it's become the most
common type of cosmetic surgery in America. Yet, if we judge by the
disastrous lawsuits arising out of many unhappy outcomes, many
women who undergo these procedures and parents who approve their
daughters to undergo these procedures, are unaware of their risks.  
Before you undergo breast enlargement , you should know which
breast enlargement procedures require that your doctor be board-
certified? Are there any age limits for girls before they can undergo
breast enlargement?  And what government agency, if any, is
monitoring the use of breast enlargement surgeries by teenagers?

Breast Enlargement-The Basic Procedures

Breast “enhancement” operations last between one and two hours and
can vary in terms of incision, implant material, and pocket placement.
These are the three most common types of incisions:

1) Infra-mammary fold (IMF): This is the most common. The incision
is made below the breast to provide optimized access for placement
and is preferable for silicone implants, which necessitate longer
incisions. It also leaves the most prominent scars.

2) Periareolar: The incision is made around the areolar border, which
is best for IMF adjustments and breast lifts. It leaves less noticeable
scars, but makes the patient a more likely victim of breast feeding
problems and capsular contracture, or the walling off of the implant
due to the body's immune response. It ranges from a natural-looking
breast to a hard, painful and abnormal-looking breast. It is corrected
with additional surgery, but the risk remains that the problem will
happen again.

3) Transaxillary: The incision is made in the armpit and leaves no
visible scars on the breast.

Board Certification Not Required

Alarmingly, surgeons do not need to be certified by the American
Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) to conduct these operations. In fact,
any licensed physician can legally advertise him or herself as a plastic
or cosmetic surgeon and conduct the procedure – which only
exacerbates the probability that patients will suffer from related

Board-certified plastic surgeons are required to graduate from an
accredited medical school; complete at least five years of additional
residency, three years of general surgery, and two years of plastic
surgery; practice plastic surgery for two active years before
conducting breast augmentation procedures; and pass written and oral
examinations. The possibility that a surgeon who lacks these basic
qualifications – which do not guarantee that the woman would not
suffer from complications – could place a woman under the knife is

The New Graduation Gift

And yet, while the recession caused breast augmentation surgeries to
drop by 12% last year, they were still 45% more popular than in
2000 at 307,230 procedures – and 803% more prevalent than in
1992. Reconstruction procedures rose by 39% last year, according to
the ABPS’ 2009 report of the 2008 statistics.

Between 2002 and 2003, the number of women and girls younger
than 18 who got breast augmentation nearly tripled, from 3,872 to
11,326, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic
Surgery. Many of these are “gifts” from parents for girls’ birthday or
graduations, along with nose jobs and other cosmetic procedures,
even though the ABPS recommends the minimum patient age for
plastic surgery to be 18 and they are not approved by the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA), except for cases of reconstructive or
corrective surgery.


Deaths due to breast augmentation are not common, but they do occur.
Part of the reason is that plastic surgeons do not have aortic balloon
pumps, cardiac bypass machines, or other equipment to deal with
unexpected and deadly complications.
In March 2008, a teenager in Boca Raton, FL, died after she went into
cardiac arrest due to an acute reaction to the anesthesia she was
administered. She was taken to the hospital but died within 24 hours.
The teenager’s parents are suing the surgeon and anesthesiologist for
malpractice because the operating room “wasn't properly equipped for
an emergency, that [surgeon Steven Schuster] and anesthesiologist
Peter Warheit were too slow to recognize what was happening and
administered too little of the antidote, the drug dantrolene,” The Miami
Herald reported.

Unfortunately, the Department of Health was unable to find anything
in the statutes to provide patients or their survivors legal standing in
such cases, leaving the teenager’s parents without a chance to obtain
justice. In other words, if surgery complications lead to the patient’s
death, well, tough luck.

Find out more information on keeping your breasts and circulation
system healthy:
Breast Enlargement -Health Risks / Tight Bras and
Briefs-Health Dangers /Swollen Ankles -Causes and Cures

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Selected Sources: (1)Study of Breast Implants and Disease in Meta-
(2)Safety of Silicone Implants, Review by Insittute of Medicine

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