By Pearl Britto Many people think having plastic surgery is an act of vanity or something they should be ashamed to admit they want. We all want to look our best, and we spend hours sitting in hair salons, getting our nails done, exercising at gyms, maintaining healthy diets, and standing in front of a mirror applying makeup and great pains to maintain flawless hygiene. Even a new wardrobe can be fulfilling to our aesthetic senses. Plastic Surgery, on a more serious level, is similar to all of these things. Plastic Surgery used to be associated primarily with famous Hollywood celebrities an jet setters. But as personal improvement through plastic surgery is increasingly becoming a reality for people throughout the world, the celebrities only connotation no longer applies. As a plastic surgery consultant, I have worked with several of the top surgeons in Beverly Hills and have seen patients from many walks of life, including high profile celebrities, professionals, housewives, and even college students. Desire for self-improvement transcends all occupational and geographical boundaries, and I believe that wanting to alter the features you were born with is nothing to be ashamed of. Most people feel their best when they look their best. However, no one should undergo a surgical procedure to please someone else. If someone tries to make you feel that you need surgery to look better in their eyes, save you time and money and consider changing your friends or partner instead! How Do You Begin? One of the most important decisions in considering plastic surgery is choosing a qualified, board certified surgeon. In this day and age, the process can be very confusing. An excellent referral source is the official web site of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and choosing a surgeon who has mastered the particular procedure you are interested in is important. For instance, Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Randal Digby Haworth, M.D. , is one of the most highly regarded plastic surgeons in the area of breast augmentation. Dr. Haworth has earned a reputation for being an expert by his meticulous work and keen eye for perfection in this area. You will want to consider the surgeon’s expertise and find a surgeon whose reputation matches your needs. A common concern I have seen with patients is the inability to ask questions of the surgeon. This situation has made e-mail a new comfortable place for people to research and ask questions without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. A patient should never be afraid to ask their doctor, or his/her staff, any questions that pertain to potential surgery regardless of how silly the question may seem. Trust and comfort are important when you consider any operation. You should never leave an office feeling as if you have been sold a sugical procedure, or that you just closed a deal. You are not a car, this is your body and you must live and be happy with the changes you make to it. Choosing Your Breast Implants Beyond the media hype of which celebrity did what, a great deal of many sucessful practices are made up of everyday people. I have observed that the popularity of certain procedures seems to be dependent upon the geographical location. For example, in Los Angeles, breast augmentation, breast lift, and breast reduction are very common, Breast implants come in two varieties – silicone and saline. In the United States, however, the saline filled breast implant is essentially the only option available to a first-time patient. There are exceptions to this rule. The FDA has specified that silicone implants may be utilized in the following circumstances: If a patient already has implants that happen to be encapsulated (hard); if someone requires a breast lift, reduction, or reconstruction at the same time as needing an implant’ or if someone has very thin breast tissue. As with any surgery, it is important that patients choosing silicone implants understand all potential risks involved. Unlike saline, silicone will not deflate if it ruptures, so it can be a long time before you are even aware there is a problem. Silicone, in my option, looks and feels more natural to the touch in a large number of patients. Because of this, some patients prefer silicone. I always advise women to make sure they have their implants examined on a regular basis to ensure there is no leakage. Saline implants can also feel natural when done correctly, and the question of placing the implant under or over the muscle is also an important decision and one that should be explained by the doctor at the time of consultation. Breast Size Breast size is a personal choice, and patients should not focus on the volume number, or ccs of the implant. This can be a confusing issue with women. I try to emphasize that all body sizes are different, and much like choosing a haircut that may look perfect on your friend (most can relate to this), it could be a different issue on you. There are three factors that a surgeon must consider when producing your final bust size: Your chest wall circumference; your natural breast cup size; and finally, the actual size of the implant. To illustrate this point, for instance, a 6’6″ tall woman with size A cup breast may need a 500 cc implant to achieve a mid-C cup, whereas a 4’6″ woman with A cup will require only 225 cc to get the same end cup results. This is why I feel it is difficult to compare what you need for an implant size based upon what your friend has. All the many variables must be considered. Is Bigger Better? I have seen many women who believe bigger is better, and although I don’t personally believe your breast should rest upon your collarbone, some women feel that is a good look for them. Again it is all about preference. This is another important issue to discuss with your surgeon. All in all, it is safe to say that there is no one perfect implant size to fit all types of women. If a woman is unsure of what size may look the best, I recommend they buy a Miracle Bra or the popular Water Bra and wear it under their clothes. Once you are comfortable with a size, I then suggest you wear it to your consultation to show the surgeon exactly what you fancy. What you think a B, C, or D cup is could differ from actual reality. Costs Involved Recovery Time and Restrictions Recovery time for a primary breast augmentation is generally one week, and the patient can usually resume exercise three to four weeks after surgery. Some doctors will give the okay even sooner. But having been a patient myself, I personally feel more comfortable taking the extra time for safety. That’s my opinion and not a medical rule. Recovery time for breast reductions without implants usually takes one week, and the time varies for the patient to resume exercise. It is recommended to resume slowly as the patient’s condition improves and they feel better. The pain and recovery for a breast reduction is usually longer than a breast augmentation, and there is usually more trauma with a reduction surgery. All breast augmentation patients are restricted from driving for five to seven days. It is recommended that they are not to lift anything heavier than a glass of water for at least one week. Again, I believe it is better to be safe than sorry and would suggest that patients wait at least two weeks before lifting, When Should You Have Breast Implants? A great many women consider having breast implants after they have had their children, because they want to recapture the natural, firm breasts they once had before children. In these cases, the implants tend to be smaller and may go undetected. I have also consulted with patients in their 50s who are physically fit, but since gravity has no mercy on breasts, they choose surgery for obtaining firmer looking breasts. In fact, some women who already have a substantial amount of breast tissue op for a breast lift without the implant. Each patient’s body will react differently to implants. Plastic Surgery is not the answer to happiness. However, if taking that step can improve self confidence and help a person feel better about the way they look, it can make a big difference for alot of people. In the end, remember, you want others to see and appreciate you, not just the size and shape of your breasts. For more information on how to find a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in your area, or check to see if your surgeon is board certified, you could contact the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgery) at: 847-228-9900, or find them on the web at: www.plasticsurgery.org Pearl Britto is a reporter and freelance consultant on plastic surgery techniques and procedures. As a layperson, she has spent the last 13 years working in various managerial and public relations positions with board certified orthopedic and plastic surgeons in the Beverly Hills area. Her experience as a plastic surgery consultant has led her to be featured in countless media projects and interviews; and, for a fun and creative break between consultations, Pearl enjoys managing the personal web site of star 98.7 Los Angeles radio on air personality Jamie White (www.JamieWhite.com ). Pearl Britto can be reached at [email protected]