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Pros and Cons of Plastic Surgery

From the Hip: Is it hip to be plastic? Maybe

Well, now, last month I promised I’d take you shoe shopping – my favorite pastime in the whole wide world. I lied. It’s hard to imagine, but something far more critical than even footwear has arisen these past few weeks: the THREAT OF SUMMER. Just when I thought that winter would never leave, letting me marinate in my jeans and V-necks and venti soy white mochas, summer is sneaking up. And what does the thought of donning a bathing suit inspire you to do? Get up at dark thirty for a crazy new Jillian
Michaels regime? Start some spinach-and-kale juice cleanse à la Gwyneth?

Bah hah hah. For some of us, particularly us mummies, these old-fashioned measures just don’t work anymore. If we’re going to put on a swimsuit, we’ve got to go Under the Knife.

Yes, plastic surgery! Stop: I’m just like you. I’m not totally obsessed with my appearance. I’m not out to launch a second career as a Real Housewife. But ever since I began cranking out kids eight some years ago, my once respectable C cup completely vanished. I became flatter than a concave cheese quesadilla.
So I set up a consultation with a respected plastic surgeon nearby, but I did some homework first. I found this information from the Mayo Clinic website:

What are the two types of breast implants?
Saline breast implants. Saline implants are filled with saline, usually at the time of surgery. My Anonymous Sister had her breasts augmented last August and chose saline. While happy with her new girls, she notes her husband can tell they’re not quite “real.” At the surgeon’s, I feel like I am manhandling Ziploc bags with salt water.

Silicone breast implants. Silicone implants are pre-filled with silicone gel — a thick, sticky fluid that closely mimics the feel of human fat. Silicone more closely mimics the feel of natural breast tissue.

Silicone implants were recalled by the FDA in 1992 because there was not enough evidence that they were safe. Ongoing testing and evidence, however, have shown no health risks associated with silicone implants. The Food and Drug Administration recommends monitoring silicone breast implants with routine MRI scans every two years, starting three years after the initial implant surgery. These scans are likely not covered by insurance, so this is a potential drawback for silicone implants (it is why my
Anonymous Sister went with saline).

What is the recovery time? While recovery can vary, most patients are back to their usual activity level within a few days, although many will have fatigue and soreness for up to a week.

What are the risks of surgery? Like any surgery, there are risks associated with breast augmentation. Saline and silicone breast implants pose similar potential yucky complications: Breast pain, infection, scar tissue that distorts the shape of the breast implant (this is more typical in silicone implants, but still rare), implant leakage or rupture, need for additional breast surgery. There are other considerations for women over 40 and those with preexisting medical conditions.

Um, yikes! So armed with this implant info, I went for a free consultation (toting my fussy baby, who must sense we are talking about her food source) with Dr. Koehler of Tulsa Surgical Arts in South Tulsa. Dr. Koehler is both personable and professional — a good combination of qualities if you’re going to entrust your chest to someone. I learn almost immediately that I am a few months too early.

After I’m finished nursing, I need to wait an additional 4-6 months, otherwise the weight of the implant can trick the body into thinking it is nursing again, and milk could get trapped in various places, causing infections – EEEWW!

Another surprise — while Dr. Koehler says my breasts are in great shape for having had five kids (thank you, doctor), he says I may need a breast lift, too. I hadn’t even considered that curve ball. But the doctor shows me a picture of a woman – not his customer – who had an impressive implant job, sans lift. Her nipples, instead of pointing at you, are looking somewhat southwards towards her toes. This isn’t exactly the result I’m aiming for.

I was given the following cost for the procedure: saline implants are around $4,500, and silicone implants are around $5,200. A lift, though, can add at least $2,000, financing available. Pricing seems to be similar everywhere.

Finally, I spoke with one of Dr. Koehler’s happy customers — we shall call her Anonymous Addy. Addy had both a breast augmentation and tummy tuck, and was thrilled with her new self — as was her husband. Her recovery was a snap; if she had just gotten the boob job, she said, she would have been back to her mommy routine in a few days (minus the baby lifting). However, her tummy tuck made her so sore she was walking bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame for a week.

So there are the facts. Do your research. Talk to several doctors. But everyone I’ve spoken to who has had “work” done would do it again.

My remaining questions are more existential: What, for example, do you tell your kids while you’re recovering on the couch for a week and have scarring in odd places? What if, like my Anonymous Girlfriend, you have girls on the brink of puberty? What kind of message are we sending our girls – be happy with what you look like! Be proud of your accomplishments! It’s what’s on the inside that counts!

But, oh, yes, Mommy is getting a bit of work done. As Anonymous Girlfriend points out, there is a difference between getting a little post-childbirth “repair” work done, and strutting your Triple E’s in a tight tank top every day. She’s right, but it’s a subtle point, and I’m glad I don’t have any girls that age yet.

Also, should we spend money on such vain frivolity in the first place?

Sheesh, people, don’t ask me. I am merely the hip mom, not the hip sage.
But wasn’t it Gandhi or Mother Theresa or maybe just Oprah that said, “Fake boobs, $5,000. A happy mommy? PRICELESS.”

Shoes? Next month. I promise.

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