I was exchanging breast implants and performing a capsulectomy the other day (to treat a breast encapsulation) when my anesthesia provider expressed surprise at my method. Specifically, she had commented that she has never worked with a breast implant revision specialist, especially one in Beverly Hills or California, who had removed the WHOLE collagenous capsule when treating a breast encapsulation. Apparently she has only seen plastic surgeons either make slits in capsules (capsulotomy) or only partially remove them.
What is wrong with this revision breast implant and lift surgery I performed? According to this patient, apparently everything! At first, this patient came to me with ostensibly straightforward requests to “make” her breasts smaller and “better-shaped” in accordance with her body frame. Of note, she had undergone a previous “above the muscle” breast augmentation which, in my humble opinion, left her with a net result of breasts which were too big, too round and too fake. In essence, her breasts did not lend to a pulchritudinous appearance and that is why she sought my expertise in the first place. Indeed, she wanted to get remarried after having children and was seeking “christian boobs” to attract a decent husband. So I did what any self-respecting, honest and aesthetically minded board certified plastic surgeon would do and that was to perform a capsulectomy (remove her collagenous scar capsules), substitute her overfilled saline implants with smooth Memory Silicone Gel implants placed “under the muscle” and conclude with a bilateral mastopexy (breast lift). I thought the surgery was an unqualified success and, further punctuated by her exceptional healing vis-à-vis scarring. So why was she unhappy? I was thoroughly puzzled since we both had extensive discussions prior to the surgery about the usual risks, alternatives and benefits including what she exactly wanted from the surgery. I know she wanted to go smaller (check), she wanted to be natural (check), she wanted to appear more youthful and perky (check) and indeed she conceded that I did achieve these goals. However,she also expected her breasts to be firm and more round – she felt that her result was too natural, both in look and to touch and therefore something went wrong. But after further, protracted postoperative conversations with her, I realized where the disconnect was. I did not give her what she exactly wanted from the surgery because I gave her what she asked for and not what she wanted. In essence, this was a story of missed and unrealistic expectations. More and more of these situations arise in a plastic surgery practice simply because unrealistic expectations are instilled in us 24/7 by social media. The main platforms culpable for this insidious brainwashing are the mobile apps Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube with their interminable repository of Photoshopped/FaceTuned manipulated models and instructional contouring videos. Young women come to me wanting cheekbones, buttocks or breasts like Abigail or Jocelyn Instastar simply because they are famous and therefore more popular and loved. Indeed, one patient requested Bella Hadid’s nose even though, in my opinion her rhinoplasty ended up with an “inverted V” deformity and a somewhat pinched, boxy tip. However, it did not matter to her because she considered Bella her idol andwas willing to accept a possible substandard result with potential nasal obstruction. Ah, the power of celebrity! Recently, I had the experience of operating on another young woman who had beautifully shaped breasts with a natural cleavage. She wanted to go only slightly bigger yet have a bigger gap between her breasts. The surgery went flawlessly but the patient was dissatisfied. She agreed her breasts were fuller with a wider cleavage but she now voiced that I should have known all along she wanted her breasts to look fake, round and hard! After this perplexing conversation, I sat down and pondered the meaning of what I really do. It is one thing to make abnormalities such as unnatural breasts look natural but it’s another thing altogether to make natural looking breasts look deliberately unnatural and possibly unappealing. For decades, I have endeavored to create natural results by making the deformed normal and the normal beautiful but now a new aesthetic standard has emerged in our culture and ultimately, it may not have positive consequences. But who am I to judge? Fake is the new real. Randal Haworth MD, FACS