These days cosmetic elective surgeries aren't as taboo as they used to be.
Many Australian men and women admit to having the occasional nip and tuck.
In 2018 alone, Aussies spent $1 billion on cosmetic procedures, including 20,000 boob jobs.
This growth means that we now spend more money per capita on cosmetic procedures than the US.
As procedures like breast augmentation become the new norm, it's easy to forget the risks that can be involved.
Unbeknown to most people, there is a big difference between cosmetic and plastic surgeons.
The Medical Board of Australia does not recognise 'cosmetic surgery' as a speciality practice of surgery, which means that looking at the title 'cosmetic surgeon' alone is not a reliable indication of certain qualifications that would be expected as a plastic surgeon.
Cosmetic surgery is a subcategory of plastic surgery so while all plastic surgeons are cosmetic surgeons, professionals who brand themselves as cosmetic surgeons do not have the same level of qualifications that plastic surgeons do.
The key here is to look directly at the qualifications listed before a surgeon's name.
Plastic surgeons have a minimum of nine years speciality training after their initial general practice qualifications.
This means that to be recognised by the Australian Medical Council, they should at least have the qualification of a Fellowship by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, FRACS, to be recognised as a surgeon and FRACS (Plast) if they have received specific plastic surgery training.
With the digital age in full swing, cosmetic surgeons often get most of their clientele online via fancy websites or Instagram pages showing models with incredible before and after shots.
Although they seem reputable, it's important to look beyond the flashy show for social media.
There is no guarantee that the surgeon even performed those surgeries or whether the results are authentic.
In some cases, models are given free breast implants in exchange for featuring on the website and giving a positive review.
Try to ask around and find someone who has visited this surgeon, for an unbiased take.
While it's important to trust your surgeon, it's vital that you do your own research to understand what the procedure entails.
Make sure your surgeon enables you to give informed, educated consent to the procedure by asking the right questions.
Here are some examples:
✔ What type of implants are you inserting?
✔ Will there be an anaesthetist present?
✔ What are the risk factors?
✔ What are my chances of developing BIA-ALCL
A breast augmentation surgery is not just a one-off.
When done correctly, under diligent care, your surgeon should be checking in to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Breast implants do not last forever, generally around 10 years, so it's important to make sure that they're without complications.
A reputable surgeon should make a long-service plan with you so you're able to check in and make sure that there are no issues, or to voice any concerns you may have.
If you suspect that there is something wrong with your implants, seek help immediately from your surgeon or doctor.
Breast implants have variations of surface, ranging from smooth to textured.
Textured implants have been thought to help the implant stay in place, gripping like Velcro to the chest.
They are often chosen for patients who have had mastectomies.
But the link to breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a type of cancer, has become undeniable.
As of July 2019, textured breast implants by Allergan have been recalled.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has encouraged people with textured implants to keep an eye out for the symptoms, such as swelling of the breast, or a lump in the breast or armpit.
However, the TGA does not recommend removal or replacement if the symptoms of BIA-ALCL aren't present.
The Australian Breast Implant Registry believes that 20,000 women undergo breast surgery in Australia annually.
But despite the high number of women that have them, most women decide to keep quiet about their choice to undergo the procedure.
This is often due to the negative stereotype surrounding breast augmentation.
Sometimes, the stigma and fear of being judged prevents women from seeking help.
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