Cosmetic Surgery: Breast Augmentation

Among many people who consider themselves sexual libertines — to whom any manner of consensual sexual behavior or body modification is perfectly acceptable — cosmetic surgery is often the exception that proves the rule. The mention of cosmetic surgery, especially sexual surgeries like cosmetic vaginoplasty, breast augmentation or penis enlargement, frequently merits a disapproving groan or open criticism from people who are otherwise accepting of sexual diversity.

Nonetheless, cosmetic surgery continues to be a huge industry, and of special importance to many sexual performers like dancers and erotic actors and actresses — not to mention transgender people. Any cosmetic surgery can have a sexual component, since a procedure designed to increase the client’s attractiveness certainly affects his or her sexual self-perception. But in this article, I’ll focus specifically on breast augmentation.

Breast augmentation surgery, as most people know, enlarges the breasts by using implants. Many products, from nutritional supplements to hormone creams, are hawked on the Internet and in women’s magazines, promising surgery-free breast enlargement. For the most part, these are entirely ineffective. Male-to-female transsexuals who take female hormones almost always find dramatic increase in the size of their breasts, but for genetic women, this is not a feasible or ethical medical option; breast augmentation surgery is the only real method for increasing the size of the breasts.

Breast augmentation surgery is fairly common among sex workers, many of whom find that their ability to make a living is greatly enhanced with every cup size they gain. Exotic dancers, in particular, report a direct connection between breast enhancement and additional interest from male clients. However, the vast majority of women who have breast enlargement surgery are not performers or sex workers — they’re just women who want to have larger or differently shaped breasts.

The Basics

Breast augmentation consists of making an incision in the breast, creating a space for an implant, which is then placed either under the muscular tissue of the chest or over it, depending on the surgeon, the procedure and the implant. The incision is made in the armpit, in the crease under the breasts, or at the bottom of the areola. Depending on the procedure, there may be a small but telltale scar. The placement of the implant is partially determined by the expected recovery time needed and the patient’s planned physical activity.

Currently, almost all implants are silicone sacs filled with a saline solution. Some implants (currently used only in reconstructive surgery and some other instances) have a silicone gel filling, but some studies have correlated this silicone gel to autoimmune diseases, so saline implants tend to be considered safer.

Recently, adjustable saline implants have been introduced. These are similar to typical saline implants, but allow the surgeon to adjust the size of the implant after implantation. Typically, depending on a number of factors, breast implants are anywhere from A-cups to triple-D.

After breast implant surgery, nipple sensitivity can either increase or decrease. Variations women have reported after breast implant surgery includes intensely (and sometimes uncomfortably) sensitive nipples, or conversely, a complete loss of feeling. Generally, these changes are temporary, but sexual response and nursing are sometimes permanently affected.

The surgery usually requires general anesthesia, but depending on the individual, some patients can have it performed with “twilight anesthesia” or sedation, which makes the patient sleepy but does not put her to sleep. The operation takes about one to three hours per breast, depending on the size and position of the implants. The surgery is generally performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient goes home the same day, but in some cases the patient must stay in the hospital overnight. Bandages come off after a few days, and a surgical bra must be worn for at least two to three weeks because of the swelling and bruising associated with the procedure. The patient can usually return to calm, quiet work within 3-5 days, but arm extension should be kept to a minimum. The stitches are removed a week to 10 days after the surgery.

Breast augmentation usually costs about $3,000 to $4,000 including hospital care.

What do they Feel Like?

Anyone who has touched augmented breasts will acknowledge that they don’t quite feel like the non-augmented or “all-natural” variety. Breast implants are usually firmer and less mobile than natural breasts. This varies greatly based on the size of the implants — smaller implants tend to be less conspicuously different from real breasts than larger ones do. Implants also don’t soften with age, the way natural breasts do.

Risks and Concerns

The most significant risks associated with breast enlargement surgery are the same risks associated with any surgery under general anesthesia — which will be greatly varied depending on the patient’s age, general health and any allergies to medications.

Furthermore, there are a few specific complications that can arise from breast enlargement:

* A “capsular contracture” is when the scar or the area around the implant begins to tighten, causing the breast to feel hard.
* Nipple sensitivity, as mentioned above, can either increase or decrease, usually on a temporary basis.
* “Rippling,” or an indentation in the breast, can occur when the implant moves under the skin.
* The breast implants can rupture or leak in an accident or, occasionally, without an accident.

One of the most common reasons women seek breast augmentation surgery is because of changes in the shape and texture of the breasts after weight loss, pregnancy or as a natural part of aging. Other women seek surgery after having been unhappy with their bust for their entire adult life. Whatever the reasons for seeking breast augmentation surgery, it should be noted that this year a Dutch study released results indicating that women who get breast implants are three times as likely to attempt suicide as the general population. However positively one may feel toward cosmetic surgery, it’s important to note that neither breast augmentation nor any other plastic surgery should be used to address long-term self-esteem issues, and in fact such surgeries may exacerbate them when the results do not change a patient’s underlying concerns — perhaps concerns she didn’t even know she had.

If you or a partner is considering breast enlargement surgery, I encourage you to consider all these possible complications — especially the psychological ones. Though $4,000 may not seem like a lot to spend for a “new body,” it’s very important to remember that larger breasts do not equal sex appeal. The media (especially the adult industry) tends to present surgically enhanced breasts as a “standard” for attractive women. However, every sexually active adult has her or his own opinions about what’s sexy.

Before entering into a costly, risky and — perhaps most importantly — potentially disappointing procedure, I encourage any potential patient to keep in mind that just because her (or her partner’s) favorite porn star has 38DDDs, that doesn’t mean she needs them to be sexy. Porn, in particular, is an entertainment of extremes, and breast implants alone won’t make anyone look like a porn star. Besides the surgeons who work on them, porn stars have an army of makeup people, hairdressers, cosmetologists, lighting technicians and set designers who make them look as “perfect” as possible.

Breast implants are an increasingly (pardon the pun) large part of the cultural landscape, a conspicuous mark of sexual libertinism and a signifier of perceived sexiness. They can be a way for a woman to feel more comfortable and happier with her body and her appearance — and many clients report success and satisfaction.

But large breasts aren’t the only way to be sexy — there are a million ways, and I encourage you to experience all the ones that work for you.

Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations is the premiere sex-positive, women-principled adult toy retailer in the US. An iconic brand and one of the world's first sex toy shops to focus specifically on women's pleasure and sexual education, Good Vibrations was founded by Joani Blank in 1977 to provide women with a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental place to shop for erotic toys. Good Vibrations has always included all people across the gender spectrum, and is a place where customers can come for education, high quality products, and information promoting sexual health, pleasure and empowerment. Customers can shop Good Vibrations' expertly curated product selection across any of its nine retail locations or on the GoodVibes.com website, where they can also find a wealth of information pertaining to sexual pleasure, exploration and education.

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