No Complete Record
No one knows how many women in the world have breast implants.
Because implant manufacturers and plastic surgeons have never
been required to report the number of implant sales and use, there
is no accurate record.
In 1999, the number of woman who had received breast implants
was quoted by many sources as 1 to 2 million women in the United
States alone. Given that breast implants have been on the world
market for over three decades, implant sales, especially sales
of saline implants, have boomed in the last six years, and that
silicone gel implants are now aggressively marketed as “FDA
Approved,” the number of women with breast implants has
surely greatly surpassed the 2 million person estimate from eight
Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American
Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery have established a voluntary
registry for plastic surgeons to report and record the number
of breast implant surgeries performed every year. These registries
provide us with some valuable information about the number and
nature of augmentation and reconstruction surgeries each year
in the United States. However, because this registry is voluntary
and compiles data only from participating plastic surgeons within
each organization, we do not have a complete picture of the statistics.
Another useful source is the International
Society of Aesthetic
Surgeons which lists statistics from all over the world.
Breast augmentation is the #1 cosmetic surgery in several countries.
Again, since this a voluntary registry by participating plastic
surgeons, we cannot be sure if thousands of operations occurring
throughout the world, performed by non-participating plastic surgeons,
are included in theses statistics.
Reconstruction Rates vs. Augmentation
It has been widely reported that 80% of breast implant surgeries
are for augmentation purposes (bigger breasts) and 20% are done
for reconstruction, typically for breast cancer patients after
mastectomy. Breast cancer survivor Anne
Stansell is a member of this 20% and she explains her experience
with breast implants in the film ABSOLUTELY
SAFE. For thousands of breast cancer patients who’ve
a breast, breast implants are recommended as part of
the treatment package.
But the question remains, who makes up the 80% percent?
The group of women that makes up the augmentation population is
comprised of everyday women of all ages—students, teachers,
mothers, doctors, secretaries, grandmothers, professionals from
all walks of life. The defamatory stereotype that breast augmentation
patients are “insecure,” and “not so smart”
is offensive and is simply not true.
Women with breast implants include high school graduates who
are given breast implants as a graduation presents, young women
in their 20’s wanting to look better in their clothes, mothers
who want their breasts to look they way they did before breast
feeding, the 40 something divorcee who wants to remake her looks
as she enters the dating world again, educated women who feel
this is a choice she deserves.
In the end, it doesn’t matter who the woman is who’s
making the choice to get breast implants—what she does for
a living, what she wears, how much she earns. What matters, as
ABSOLUTELY SAFE contends,
is if the woman making this choice is making an informed choice
based on solid, long-term research
on this product. Also, and just as importantly, the film raises
questions about how the desire for beauty affects the decisions