Beneath The Boobs [FEMINA ] Rohini Bhatia-Singh keeps you abreast of the latest in breast implants. Amela Anderson and Madonna can perhaps be credited with „boosting‟ the hype and hyperbole surrounding the global existence and acceptability of breast implants. It‟s the casualness in their disclosure and its normalcy that pretty much became the impetus leading to scores of women the world over to throw out their push-up bras in favour of another solution to lift their confidence and image. Today, it isn‟t uncommon for a woman to undergo breast implant surgery. But the seriousness of the surgical procedure and the decision- making process — both by the surgeon and the woman involved — should not be underestimated. And despite all the media attention and sometimes humour attached to the notion of breast implants and who amongst the rich and famous are proud owners of the perfect „sculpted breasts,‟ the fact is, breast implant surgery does involve some degree of risk. In India, breast implant surgery is still not talked about much. Leading cosmetic surgeons have observed that Indian women prefer to remain anonymous and don‟t like to discuss it openly. Yet, Mumbai can be compared with California and Hollywood, and is a popular city for boob jobs due to its close association with Bollywood. NOT JUST FOR THE RICH Dr Mohan Thomas of Mumbai‟s Cosmetic Surgery Institute and Consulting Professor of Surgery at the prestigious Mount Sinai Hospital in the US, says, “This type of surgery is not limited to just the affluent and famous. Women from all over India are now considering and undergoing this type of surgical procedure.” Thomas, who has performed 60 such surgeries in just the last year, says, “India has kept pace with tech advancement in this field and uses the same type of state-of-art technology used in the West. So, the risk factor for this type of surgical procedure is no greater or less in India.” Thomas emphasises the importance of patient selection, full disclosure, and proper post-operative treatment as intrinsic to keeping the risks to a minimum. WHAT‟S IN THERE? Breast implant surgery involves the use of saline or silicon-gel implants to enlarge or enhance the breast. Basically, two types exist: The first is made of a silicon outer shell filled with a salt solution, and the second is a gel-silicon-based product. The surgery however is not to be confused with „breast lifts‟ which is a mastectomy, a reconstructive surgical procedure. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration is the official regulatory body for monitoring the quality of the implant products. In 1992, the FDA conducted a study regarding the safety of silicon-gel breast implants and concluded that its availability be limited to women seeking breast reconstruction or the revision of an existing breast. Saline breast implants, which have been on the market since 1960, acquired FDA approval only in 2000. In India, the top cosmetic surgeons only use products recommended by the FDA or the European Union Governing Body, but concerns do arise over the level of monitoring, as India has no regulatory body, per se, scrutinising the quality of the breast implant product or the surgical procedures used. LEGIT AND THE NON-LEGIT An important point to note is that three other types of implants: Trilucent breast implants which have a soybean oil-based filler, Noivagold and PIP Hydrogel implants were all removed from the market in 2000. Although available till recently, they were never approved by the FDA but actively promoted by surgeons in Europe until they were taken off the market. BOOB BLOOPERS * According to the National Center for Policy Research (CPR) for Women and Families statistics, the number of breast augmentation surgeries have gone up from 100,000 in 1997 to 203,000 in 2000. But these could also include follow-up surgeries. * Many women who have undergone this type of surgery have to repeat the procedure to replace old implants that may have caused problems. * Possible complications include: Implant ruptures, asymmetrical wrinkled breasts, improperly positioned implants, low or complete loss of nipple sensation. * There may also be a link between breast implants and autoimmune disorders and the interference in the detection of breast cancer. * A boob job in India can cost you Rs 25,000 upwards. The surgery usually takes three hours.