Well & Good
When Lynne Hayes's partner cheated on her in 2009, she was convinced she knew how to fix things. "I was an emotional wreck and my self-esteem was shattered," says the Brisbane mother of four. "I started toying with the idea that if I had better breasts that things would be better, he would love me again and stop seeing her. Was I delusional that by replacing my implants I could fix everything in my life? Who knows? In hindsight therapy would have been a much cheaper option and a lot better for my health."
Like many women Hayes felt she needed a breast augmentation after having children. "I had always had a good sized bust, but I breast-fed three children. I found myself in my mid-30s and my bust was not what it used to be. It was saggy and I felt less of a woman somehow, for the first time in my life I felt my breasts were too small."
Looking back, Hayes says it was an "insane idea" to increase the size of her implants but she went ahead with surgery. The relationship ended when her partner cheated again. To make matters worse Lynne was having health issues relating to her implants. In 2010 she had them removed completely.
For some women the removal of breast implants, known as explanting, can be a medical necessity. Complications can arise including implant removal, ruptures, deflations, capsular contracture, infection, and pain, according to a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US.
It is thought around 18 women in New Zealand were fitted with faulty breast implants from the French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) have had them removed after suffering ruptures.
Other women seek the removal of implants for psychological reasons, says Dr Daniel Fleming, a spokesman for the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery.
"Those who do request removal ask for it usually because they have put on weight over the years and their own breasts have enlarged accordingly," he says. "They feel that they no longer need the extra size afforded by the implants. Sometimes patients will say that implants suited them at an earlier phase of their lives but do not suit their lifestyle now.
"Other reasons are rare. Occasionally a patient may have had implants to please a now former partner and wish to remove them because they never really wanted them for themselves in the first place. Removal can provide closure in these circumstances."
One woman in her 30s, from Texas in the US, explained her reasons for arranging to have her implants removed. "I don't like the way I look with large breasts. I have a hard time finding swimwear that fits my enormous bust, cannot wear tailored button-up shirts without busting the seams, men stare at my boobs, no matter how I'm dressed. That is not the kind of attention I want. The augmentation cost $5600 in 2007 [NZ$6,450], explant next month is $1800 [NZ$2,070]. I certainly hope breast implants will go out of fashion."
In Hollywood, super-sized breasts are no longer in vogue. Many celebrities, including Heidi Montag, Kimberly Stewart and Courtney Love are reported to have reversed breast enhancement procedures. Last month Victoria Beckham finally put an end to speculation over the shrinking size of her cleavage when she told a magazine that she too had her breast implants removed.
"I have seen implant removal or downsizing gaining traction over the past few years," Dr Gabriel Chiu, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, told FOX411. "This is a growing trend for all groups of women, not just celebrities." Chiu said that some patients grow tired of having such large breasts. Many women feel they are awkward and difficult to get used to. "The economy and pop culture are also major influencers in why women are going smaller," he said.
However the downsizing trend seen elsewhere is yet to play out closer to home in Australia. Fleming says he has not experienced an increase in the number of women seeking implant removal. "This is surprising because of the very large growth in the number of women having breast augmentation over the last 15 years," he says.
Hayes thinks that many women remain unaware of the dangers of having breast implants. They "have blinkers on and they think 'no one would lie to me, breast implants are safe. They aren't going to make me sick and the chances are it's not going to happen to me'."
In 2010 following her own surgery, Hayes set up Explant Info to advise and support women. She also runs a PIP support group and an implant advice group. She says she has helped thousands of women globally make the decision to have breast implant removal surgery. "I would hate for anyone to have to go through breast implant removal without a network of support for them to fall back on," she says.
Hayes says some of the women she has helped describe feeling "liberated and youthful" after their implant removal. One described finding her inner beauty through removing her breast implants. "When you have a fuller bust, you can look quite matronly and you have to cover up more and especially some women who are a little bit shorter and as they gain a little bit of weight their breasts get larger and larger," says Hayes.
However she doesn't believe breast implants will completely go out of fashion. "It's a huge industry and there is too much money to be made and far too many women who feel like their breasts need to look a certain way."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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