Keeping abreast of implants and liposuction


Written by martawohrle on Jul-23-11 5:54pm


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I am a firm believer in the idea that plastic surgery is a personal decision and that people who opt to have anything from the arguably minor (Botox) to the obviously major (52 different surgeries; “’Nature messed with me, so I don’t have any problem messing with nature’”) done should not be judged – at least not in a malicious manner.

But over the past couple of months I’ve read a few things that have made me raise my eyebrows at fairly standard procedures – namely breast implants and liposuction. Both are among the top five most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States, so we’re talking large groups of people here. And the news about these surgeries isn’t all that great.

First, the not so surprising news: the FDA recently concluded that getting silicone breast implants might be a very risky undertaking. Although the implants don’t seem to cause autoimmune diseases or cancer as reports have suggested in the past, they do have one serious strike against them: the passage of time. “The longer a woman has silicone-filled breast implants, the more likely she is to experience complications.” These complications include scarring and rupturing; in fact, in research on women with implants prior to 2006, 20 – 40 percent of women who got implants for cosmetic reasons and 40 – 70 percent of women who got them for reconstruction after breast cancer had to have surgery to deal with various issues that arose with their implants.

Since implants are so prone to rupturing – much of the time without the knowledge of the people they are residing in – the FDA advises women with implants to get an MRI to check for these “silent ruptures” every two years. Yes, MRI scans are expensive and no, they are not always covered by insurance. The FDA also recommends replacing implants every ten years in order to avoid complications; so if you’re of the mindset that these man-made silicone devices are permanent, it’s advisable to either alter your thinking or stay away from this surgery in the first place.

As for liposuction…well, the news isn’t so much bad as it is unfortunate. A few months ago,researchers discovered that when fat is suctioned out of a person’s abdomen or thighs or anywhere else on her body, it eventually returns. But here’s the kicker: it doesn’t return to the same place. If you get liposuction on your hips, it will most certainly return – but it might redistribute to your arms instead. This may seem surprising, and it was to plastic surgeons. But obesity researchers claim that the body “defends” fat whether you’re dieting or getting liposuction. Why does the fat redistribute, though? Liposuction is a very physical (some might say violent) procedure; once the fat cells are attacked in an area, the structure may be permanently destroyed in that one place. So the fat is forced to relocate.

Interestingly, the women used in the study who had liposuction were happy with the results, despite their fat redistributing to other parts of their bodies. I suppose the ideal situation is getting liposuction on the most unappealingly fat, squishy area on your body, and having the extra poundage redistribute to your breasts. Now that’s what I call successful surgery.

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