Boobs. They could be small happy sacks or large bouncing Buddha’s. Either way, the amount of women getting boob jobs is on the rise.
The very first breast augmentation was performed on Timmie Jean Lindsay, a housewife in Texas in 1962. Today, breast augmentation is the most popular surgery with nearly 280,000 teenagers and women having breast enlargements in 2015. This jumps from the previous record set in the 1990s of 101,000 women having breast implants in the 1990s.
With the average cost of surgery in Australia being around $5900, it’s not surprising then that 15,000 women are jetting overseas, particularly to Asia for surgery because costs are 30 to 40 percent cheaper. And there’s a bonus with a holiday on the beach afterwards!
Two such women are cousins Sarah, 22, and Mallory, 23, from the South Coast who in one day, had obtained bank loans, booked flights and accommodation, and locked in dates at Bangkok Phyathai 2 International Hospital for breast augmentation surgery.
For Mallory, the decision to change her breasts was about confidence. “I wanted them done so I would feel more comfortable in my own body and so that I could fill out clothing,” Mallory says.
So on October 24 this year, the women both went from an A cup to a D cup.
Sarah explains that while Thailand is on a high alert for bomb threats, the surgery was the least of her worries.
Whereas for Mallory, it was a different story. “I was pretty excited when we were getting on the plane to go, I didn’t get nervous until I was sitting in the waiting room in the hospital to get our pre-examinations done,” says Mallory. “We met with the surgeon and talked about the difficulties and the [things that could go wrong] and then he measures you. That was really exciting, I wasn’t nervous.
“After that, we had to do blood tests and x-rays, I hate blood tests.”
But things were about to get worse for Mallory. “I was just sitting in my room chilling out and then they said it was my turn to be led out. I got really, really, really nervous,” she says, nervously tugging at the collar of her shirt as she remembers her surgery.
Completely freaking out in the operating room, Mallory had to be given happy gas to calm her nerves. It didn’t take long for her to pass out, and when she woke up, she was unsure of what happened and was in extreme pain.
Resting in the hospital, the nurses were kind and attentive, but none of them could help the feeling of breathlessness she had – like a heavy weight was on her chest. Mallory couldn’t open a door let alone a yogurt for breakfast.
Two weeks on from surgery, the women are now home, and Mallory still struggles to sit up in bed, needing her mum to pull her from the sheets.
The ladies are incredibly open about their new breasts and invite me to feel the results of their surgery. The implants are hard, but this is likely because the healing process isn’t over. They have been told it will take six weeks for the breasts to drop, soften and for the skin to stop stretching.
Their scars are also quite prominent, but one of Sarah’s is especially prominent – the result of a suture that was left behind by the surgeon or nurse. She found it when she felt an abnormally hard and lumpy scar. After trying to pull the stitch out herself and experiencing extreme discomfort, Sarah realised that it had become attached to her skin. She has booked an appointment at the local hospital but they’re still unsure about how they’re going to get the stitch out.
However, this is minor compared with how drastically wrong breast augmentation can go.
Someone who knows this all too well is Chief Clinical Photographer Noel Fisher. Mr Fisher has witnessed an uncountable amount of surgeries gone wrong first-hand while working at Royal North Shore Hospital, St Vincent’s, RPA, and many more, photographing before and after surgeries as part of medical procedure.
“I’ve seen some very serious post-operative infections from people who have gone overseas for breast augmentations,” says Mr. Fisher. “I’ve also seen lots of bad work in terms of breasts butchered, which is hard to look at.”
But it’s not just overseas where things can go wrong. “I’ve seen a lot of mistakes made by Australian surgeons, things like silicon leaching out of nipples,” he says.
“These women have gone in to make themselves look more beautiful and instead they’ve got scars all over them, it’s not a pretty sight,” he adds.
Even though it seems the number of women undergoing breast augmentations rises year on year, it’s surprising to know that around 43,000 breast implants were recorded to be removed in 2015.
“Quite honestly, the female form is one of the most beautiful things on the planet. Why do people need to go and mess with it?” wonders Noel. “You’re more than just a set of mammary glands. It’s about what’s inside.” – Jade Loiterton
Photos provided by interviewees.
*Interviewees names have been changed to protect their identity.