Breast Implants After 40
"I love the twins," jokes 42-year-old Lisa Russo, a mother of three who's thrilled about taking her bust from an A cup to a D. "Having pregnancies and blowing up to a DD with each child and then shriveling back down to an A, I felt that was just so unfair ... so I got the surgery 10 months ago."
It's that kind of response that has Lisa Johnson Mandell considering a similar surgery, as a growing number of women over the age of 40 are going under the knife for breast implants. "I believe that my confidence will be enhanced as my chest is," says the 49-year-old, who still remembers being teased as a kid about her body. But she does have some concerns. "I'm worried about the recovery time. Most people get them when they're in their early 20s so you heal a lot faster at that point," she says. "Is it right to have 18-year-old breasts on a 49-year-old body? I'm not sure about that." What do you think about breast implants for women after 40? Join the discussion!
Dr. Lisa Cassileth, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, is seeing more and more women in their 40s for the procedure. "The largest segment of the population is the women over 40 having these breast implants done," she says, explaining that many women at that age are trying to refresh their look after having a baby -- or just get back to what they once were. "Maybe her breasts were actually even bigger, then she breast fed and they got smaller," she says about a typical patient. "It's really much more of a restorative procedure."
Some women go for an even more involved surgery known as the "mommy trio" to target three areas: abs, love handles and breasts. "The mommy trio is basically trying to reverse what pregnancy does to your body," Dr. Cassileth explains. "Some people ... they look two or three months pregnant after they've had a kid and they're not [pregnant]."
But should motherhood be reversed? "If the wear and tear of having children is seen as a problem that needs to be solved with plastic surgery, I don't think that's so helpful," says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families. "If women want to feel better about themselves, better about their lives, there are other ways to do that."
Others disagree, saying this trend has nothing to do with self-esteem. Lisa Russo, for example, maintains that she had plenty of confidence before the surgery and was simply dissatisfied with her body. "I had the breasts of an 80-year-old woman," she says, "I coudn't wear outfits. I just needed something."
For those considering breast implants, Zuckerman reminds that like all surgeries, the procedure does carry some risks. And, those in their 40s and 50s are at a higher risk for breast cancer which she claims can be harder to detect with an implant. There are also the costs to consider. "Health insurance does not cover it," she says. "If there are any complications, the most common one is the breasts get hard, you have to pay the cost of surgery again."
Dr. Cassileth suggests that anyone considering breast implants should first gather information and think about what's right for her. "Obviously if they have any kind of medical problem then it's not worth the risk," she says, while also pointing out that she feels proud of her work. "We just try to do the absolute safest best work possible, and I think it can really make a difference in people's lives."
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