Friday, July 11, 2014

Why Edmonton Women are Getting Their Breasts Done

*Names have been changed

Growing up female is difficult in our society. Aside from the television and Internet advertisements that tell us what we should be buying, posters and billboards that tell us what we should be wearing and the general propaganda that tells us women’s value is measured by whether or not she looks like every man’s wet dream, any night owl will know that we can’t get away from this pressure even when we’re vegging out on the couch before bed.

These late-night advertisements promote workout systems and weight loss programs that become embedded in our heads while we try to get some shut-eye. The not-so-hidden messages warn us that in order to be considered valuable we need to ensure we fit into society’s mold of what’s deemed attractive. It all looks like a trap to keep women preoccupied with never-ending self-improvement so that they don’t spend more time on – oh I don’t know – world issues.

Where skinny is almost always the goal set for women of our society, counterintuitively large breasts are seen everywhere in windows of lingerie stores sporting push-up bras that almost always look better on the models photographed in the display. While some women may be blessed with thirty-two waists and double-ds, the majority of women are left feeling inadequate as they look down at what mother-nature gave them and see that it’s not what’s expected of them.

It’s no surprise then that with the normalcy of plastic surgery throughout the years that not only middle-aged women who want to reverse gravity are dishing out the big bucks – but women in their early twenties are spending tens of thousands of dollars in the hopes of achieving some grapple of confidence in a world that seems to set them up for failure. And while it’s all good if these women are actually boosting their self-esteem through surgery, are they actually happier post-surgery?

When I was growing up, I often felt incredibly self-conscious about the size of my breasts. I didn’t feel like I measured up to society’s expectations and that I lacked the femininity that came with having large breasts. It took me a long time to finally be comfortable with the body I have – especially after one of my partners told me that he “loved my breasts even though they were small.”

While breast augmentation is something that’s casually mentioned in cities revolving around the entertainment business such as Los Angeles or Vancouver, many people would be surprised to know that Edmonton is building its own reputation in terms of a growing number of women who are willing to go under the knife for their dream bodies.

Dr. Feng Chong, a surgeon at Plastic Surgery Alberta says that during the week, their office will see about fifteen to twenty-five clients who come in interested in breast augmentation. Some of these women are interested in both breast implants and a mastopexy (breast lift) at the same time.

I spoke to twenty-three-year-old *Anna who, after years of hating gave her natural- born breasts, finally woke up to what she always wanted this winter. An everyday Edmontonian who works full time to pay rent, bills, car insurance and to support her two dogs and two cats happily paid the tab of around $10,000 after a consultation with a surgeon. Anna says that she completely stands by her decision to change her body.

“I was very unhappy with my natural breasts,” she says. “I would never let sexual partners touch or see them. I felt like I had something wrong with me. I felt masculine. After years of waiting for them to appear on their own, I finally took the leap and it was the best decision of my life.”

“The recurring sentiment I hear from many women is that this is a life changing surgery; their self esteem, confidence and happiness are all increased,” says Dr. Chong. “This is the case even in women who do this for themselves and go with very conservatively sized implants (meaning many times others many not even know they have had surgery).”

“As well we often hear that women wished they had done this earlier and not waited so long.”

Anna emphasises that the surgery was simple – she went to ‘sleep’ and woke up with a new set. However, she says that she had concerns starting out.

“I was scared I would go too big, or they wouldn't be nice enough for my standards,” she says. “I had a picture in my head of what I thought I wanted, and I only hoped they would meet that expectation. Another difficulty was deciding what I wanted in the first place. Different breasts compliment different body types accordingly.”

For those worrying about the surgery itself, Dr. Chong says that the pain is probably less than most women anticipate. “However, we do inject long lasting local anesthetic in the area during surgery,” he says. “As well, we prescribe pain medications afterwards. These two measures help with pain control.”

On the day of the surgery, Anna had a massive panic attack in the recovery room. She contributes it to part anesthetic, part not knowing what her new breasts looked like bandaged up in a surgical bra.

“I couldn't actually take a real peek at them until the next day,” she says. “At that point I would’ve been horrified – the first view of new breasts is not what one would expect. They look awful for a couple weeks. Luckily I knew what to expect, and overcame my worries.”

“The majority of women are very happy and excited [post-op], says Dr. Chong. “Post operative, many are surprised at how little pain there is. Many of the clients will describe that it is similar to the discomfort they have after a very difficult chest workout. In fact many women simply get tired of ‘taking it easy’ and are keen to get back to regular life and exercise.”

Anna says that her new breasts took time to look like they were supposed to post op. Like any surgery, she was advised to take good care of herself to achieve the best results.

“Every surgeon is different in their aftercare instructions, and my instructions were to not touch them for six weeks,” she says. “Also, typical after-surgery instructions are: No submerging the incisions, no lifting, plenty of fluids, bed rest and good nutrition. Smoking isn’t advised.”

Anna goes on to say that she’ll also have to throw down her credit card to replace them every ten years. However, I have to wonder if she’ll become comfortable with her natural breasts at some point in her life like I did after years of struggling to find confidence in mine.

What advice does Anna have to Edmontonian women who are interested in going under the knife for the sake of potentially achieving total breast-confidence?

“It’s critical to make sure you’re comfortable with your surgeon,” she says. “Shop around, read reviews and listen to them, go for multiple consultations with different surgeons. Hold out for one who gives you a good gut feeling and your chemistry is good with. Ultimately, they’re your breasts, so take your surgeon's advice, but make your own decisions as to what you want.”

Anna goes on to say that if she could go back and redo it she would’ve chosen a surgeon who she was more comfortable with.

With so many women having breast augmentation done, one wonders if any of them regret the experience.

“I’ve been doing this for over seven years now,” says Dr. Chong, “and we are one of the busiest offices in Canada. Up until this year I did not have anyone come back wishing they did not have the surgery.

“However, this year I had one client come back. Although she was very happy, she stated that her fiancĂ©e didn’t like them so she wanted them removed. I think a factor for her as well, was that she had gained some weight causing them to be larger than they were previously. She is our very first patient who wanted them removed.”

While I’m content with the size of my natural breasts and am happy giving them a boost through the more inexpensive option of push-up bras rather than dishing out $10,000 for a new pair, I know that there are people like Anna who are equally if not more happy with the size of their post-op breasts. But with the increasingly normalcy of breast augmentation, it poses the question of whether or not putting a foot in the surgeon’s door will lead women towards society’s trap of never-ending self-improvement – albeit they have the funds of course.

“I would say well over 90% of women are very happy [with their results], says Dr. Chong. “One interesting point, however, is that although I always warn clients about this, many do come back wishing they had picked a larger size.”

“I would’ve gone a little bit bigger as well,” says Anna.

 Article published in July/August 2014 issue.

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