In preparation for this article, I conducted an informal survey asking friends about their thoughts on breast augmentation.
The overwhelming feedback was fierce opposition.
“It’s so unnatural.”
“They always end up looking fake.”
“Why would you do that? You don’t need them.”**
“Why aren’t people happy the way they are?”
**I’d like to note here that I wasn’t asking anyone’s opinion about me getting a breast augmentation, but it’s interesting that is still the feedback I received.
But, there were a few outliers who were supportive.
“I have two friends that had it that had no boobs, got them and felt a lot better afterwards.”
“I think it’s fine if it will make a big difference in your self-esteem and if you’re doing it for you and not to impress someone else.”
Breast augmentation is the kind of thing where everyone has an opinion— and often, a strong, polarizing one.
No matter your opinion, the data is clear: breast augmentation is very, very popular.
In 2014 alone, there were 286,254 breast augmentation surgeries conducted in the US. It has been the top cosmetic surgery performed for years and it’s estimated that nearly 5% of women in the US have undergone the procedure.
Is breast augmentation for everyone? Certainly not. But it’s important to note that women who have made this decision are not typically filled with buyer’s remorse—on the contrary, the overwhelming majority of women who have had breast augmentation surgery are incredibly pleased with their results. According to RealSelf, 92% of women who have had breast augmentation would recommend it. 94% are happy about their decision. 82% report an improvement in self-confidence. And a footnote here —61% also reported having more frequent sex, and 70% a more satisfying sex life.
Yet, the opposition stands. And this often-vehement opposition is especially interesting to explore.
Let’s break down the critique.
1) “It’s unnatural.”
One common criticism is that breast augmentation is “unnatural.” However, most forms of body modification can be considered “unnatural,” and do not bear the same level of stigma or judgment that breast augmentation can. For example, tooth whitening is not a natural procedure; it involves chemicals and often-expensive machinery. Neither is hair coloring. Most makeup is not made of natural materials, either. Yet, by and large, people tend to deem these types of modification entirely acceptable.
2) “They always end up looking fake.”
Well, no—not necessarily. When people hear the phrase “breast augmentation,” or more colloquially, “boob job,” the first thing that they may think of are the extra large, round and perky fake breasts often seen on strippers or porn stars. While those types of breasts certainly exist, it’s a misconception that all augmented breasts look that way.
Here’s an illustrative anecdote from renowned plastic surgeon, Stephen Cohen:
“I was in St. Barts years ago with my family and we were having lunch. I recognized a young lady who was with Demarchelier, and I had operated on her…She said hello to me, and we sat down at the same table, and we were talking to Demarchelier about photography. He had just come out with a book, and it’s a pretty famous book…He was a little bit arrogant about saying ‘I can always tell if someone’s had a breast augmentation.’ He said, ‘In my book, there’s not a single girl I photographed who had a breast augmentation.’ I did two of the girls in his book.”
3) “Why would you do that? You don’t need them.”
There’s a difference between medical necessity and aesthetic necessity. Let’s explore both. Again, most body modification is not, strictly speaking, medically necessary. Sometimes it is; a rhinoplasty (nose job) can improve breathing and braces can prevent our teeth from wearing down prematurely. Typically, however, we modify our appearance for aesthetic reasons. We whiten our teeth, cover up our zits, curl our eyelashes, spend hours at the gym, laser off our body hair—all to conform to whatever ideal of beauty we hold. On the note about aesthetic necessity: aesthetic necessity, to some extent, is a fallacy.
4) “Why aren’t people happy the way they are?”
Well, that’s a bigger question—one that that whole industries are built around—self-help, cosmetics, and fashion, to name a few. Self-acceptance is a life-long journey that often no amount of external validation, French fries, or makeup may solve completely. Statistically speaking, most people are not 100% happy with themselves. In a survey of 5000 people conducted by the charity Action for Happiness, when asked, “How often are you kind to yourself and think you’re fine as you are?” people’s average rating was just 5.56 out of 10. Only 5% of people put themselves at a 10 on the Acceptance habit.
Some parting thoughts…
There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there, and ultimately, it’s up to you to make the decision that’s right for you.
If you’re looking for more information before making your decision, here are some resources to explore:
And if you’re already confident in your decision and ready to get started, feel free to contact one of our world-class physicians here.
Questions? Comments? Let us know your thoughts below or tweet at us: @medrepublicinc.