The New Boob Jobs
The new technology and tools allowing women to get implants faster, safer, and more natural-looking than ever before.
All anyone wants to talk about these days is butts: lifts, injections, and implants. And of course face fillers and Botox. There’s also a lot of chatter around non-surgical treatments to melt or freeze away fat. But in an age where sharing and posting your cosmetic surgeries and treatments has become the new normal, why are we not talking about boob jobs?
Though doctors are seeing a spike in patients requesting non-invasive options, breast augmentations are still among the most common surgical operations, with 279,143 procedures performed last year alone, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. That number is up 31 percent from the year 2000; so clearly women are still flocking to surgeons’ offices requesting bigger breasts. But doctors have noticed an uptick in women wanting increasingly smaller implant sizes with the most natural finish. In LA, that means more C-cups than double Ds. In the rest of the country, medium to full-size B cups are trending.”I have always had female patients that want a natural look. They don’t want to go too huge,” says Dr. Melissa Doft, a clinical assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical School in New York City. “They’re getting augmentation in their 20s and they want them to look like what they could have naturally been born with.”
But breast implants haven’t been historically lauded for their authenticity. And while the days of rock-hard Playboy Bunny boobs are falling out of fashion, they’re also falling out of the realm of possibility. That’s because the latest innovations in breast augmentations are guaranteeing better results than ever before. The latest implants almost never need to be replaced, they look and feel natural, and hurt a hell of a lot less than they did just five years ago. Intrigued? We consulted Doft and Dr. Ashkan Ghavami, a cosmetic surgeon in Los Angeles and the man behind Iggy Azalea’s breast augmentation, to get the rundown on the latest news in the world of boob jobs.
“Gummy bear boob jobs” is a juvenile marketing term used to disguise a really cool advancement in silicone implant technology. Imagine it like this: instead of a liquid sloshing around inside an implant, it’s instead filled with a silicone cohesive gel that would keep its form if cut in half—like a gummy bear. While the technology has been around for nearly 30 years (internationally), this type of implant is a recent innovation in the States as of the last five years. In fact, the FDA just approved a new implant in Allergan’s Natrelle line called Inspira this month, which was designed to be overfilled with gel to achieve an even fuller result. “The gel that’s inside the implant has an increased crosslink. It holds its shape better and it won’t wrinkle as much or ripple as much,” says Doft, also noting that you can achieve increased volume near the cleavage than with traditional implants. “If it were to rupture or leak it’s going into that capsule, not all over the body.” That last bit is important, since ruptured or leaking implants can cause complications that require further surgery. It’s one of the main reasons doctors once recommended replacing your implants every decade. With these new cohesive gel implants, you only need to replace them when you feel like it (the rate of rupture is a low 2.6 percent at nine years). The gel is still very soft to the touch, but some implant manufacturers make them stiffer than others, Doft notes. You can ask your doctor to show you all the shapes (teardrop, round, textured), sizes, and types of gel implants in your first consultation. A typical breast augmentation with “gummy bear” implants will set you back around $8,000-$10,000.
Make no mistake: breast augmentation is major surgery. It requires anesthesia, painkillers, and typically about a week of recovery time (we’ve all seen Botched and Dr. 90210). But there are a few doctors out there trained in a minimally invasive, under-the-muscle augmentation that allows for patients to recover in about 24 hours. Too good to be true? Not quite—Iggy Azalea performed alongside Jennifer Lopez at the American Music Awards in 2014 only four days after seeing Ghavami for one of his Rapid Recovery breast augmentations. “I do a precise pocket with almost no bruising or bleeding,” says Ghavami. “The pain reaction and inflammation in the body is almost zero.” Ghavami often posts from inside the OR on his Snapchat, where he boasts about how quickly the procedure can be done: often in under 24 minutes. Since Ghavami’s patients are in significantly less pain and without drains (which only increase inflammation, he says), they don’t need post-op prescription painkillers. “In the same time you can get a pedicure, you can get your breasts augmented,” he says. “The anesthesia exposure is minimal. I tell my patients to go to dinner that night and brunch the next day. And they do.” The procedure can cost a little over $10,000, which he notes is slightly higher than the going rate for traditional augmentation in Los Angeles. But Ghavami’s quick and clean technique can reduce scarring, inflammation, and therefore unnecessary reoperation rates, which can become costly—and dangerous—overtime.
“In the same time you can get a pedicure, you can get your breasts augmented,” he says.
There is no such thing as a non-surgical boob job. What people are often referring to is fat transfer, which can be performed under local anesthesia. The operation involves fat being liposuctioned from one part of the body (the thighs, arms, lovehandles, or back) and injected into another part (in this case, the breasts). “My favorite thing for fat transfer is when someone already has breast implants, you can enhance the cleavage area or create a better side-boob. It’s augmentation-light,” says Ghavami. “But if someone just wants to be a cup or cup-and-a-half bigger, a fat transfer can serve as the actual augmentation.” There are a few big reasons women opt for a fat transfer over implants; the main is that in addition to fuller breasts, you also get a more contoured body, since the doctors have to suck the fat from somewhere. The second benefit is that the fat is from your own body, so there’s peace of mind knowing that there isn’t a foreign object inside you (Doft notes that some women are fearful of implants). Both doctors agree that it’s really the best option for enhancing the shape of breasts that have already had implants. But there are plenty more limitations to non-surgical boob jobs. For starters, you need to have enough excess fat to harvest for the procedure. And even then, about 30-50 percent of the fat dies before it can even be transferred, making the final results a little unpredictable. Ghavami notes that he almost always puts patients to sleep for liposuction and fat transfer, because it guarantees that he can suction the deepest fat for a visible change. When a patient is awake, he notes, they can often feel the suction and won’t allow the practitioner to go any deeper (if the thought of this makes you squirm, you’re not alone). And if you ever see an Instagram post touting breast enhancements with dermal filler—take it with one giant grain of salt. “Dermal fillers should only be used for cellulite treatment and minimal breast contour areas. It’s not for a primary augmentation,” says Ghavami, noting that anyone claiming otherwise is deceptive. A full breast enhancement with dermal fillers would cost upwards of $30,000, which is wildly expensive (and also off-label). Just because liposuction and fat transfer are not considered wholly surgical doesn’t mean that the operation should be taken lightly. Ghavami is insistent that it’s performed only under the direction of a licensed and board-certified plastic surgeon. You’ll need about five (very sore and bruise-y) days to fully recover. Doft says fat transfers can cost $7,500 to $10,000 per treatment, but you’ll likely need two or three to get the desired fullness and shape. So while it’s less expensive than implants upfront, the costs can add up.