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 years ago.

The American 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 Plastic 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 Rates
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 lost 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 women make.