A reverse plastic surgery trend has emerged in Canada, with a growing number of women asking to have their breast implants removed. Surgeons say many women are now permanently ditching their implants, after years or decades of living with them.
Dr. Julie Khanna, a Toronto-area plastic surgeon, said the number of breast implant removals performed at her clinic has gone up about 20 per cent over the past five years. “We are not talking so much about those really large breasts…That era is gone,” Dr. Khanna, past president of the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, told CTV News.
Most breast implants last about 10 to 15 years, on average, and then need to be replaced. Two years ago, American plastic surgeons started measuring breast implant trends and realized that more and more women are having them permanently removed, instead of replaced.
The trend seems to be taking hold in Canada as well. It’s estimated that about 4,000 “explants” are now being performed in Canada each year — and that number is rising. In the U.S., an estimated 40,000 explants are performed in a year.
Media personality Sharon Osbourne and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham are among the celebrities who have openly discussed their breast implant removals. Other women have been celebrating their explants on social media.
“Excited to reclaim my body!” wrote Emily Nolan.
— Emily Nolan (@iamemilynolan) September 12, 2016
Ontario nurse Cheri Edwards said her breast implants once made her feel sexy, but eventually became a nuisance. “I was finding that my implants were getting in the way of my golf swing,” she told CTV News. “Laying on my chest in yoga, I was feeling I had to prop myself up.”
Eight months ago, instead of replacing her implants, she had them taken out. “I feel totally healthier,” she said. “I feel lighter on top. I feel lighter in weight…I feel smaller is actually beautiful and sexy and that’s really why I did it.”
Other women are having explants for health reasons, blaming their implants on joint pain, rashes and swelling. And there are studies linking some types of textured breast implants to a rare form of T-cell lymphoma, a type of cancer. “I think breast implant removal surgeries are going to continue to rise,” said Jamee Cook of the U.S.-based Breast Implant Victim Advocacy group.
“They have risen over the last few years and last year they went up by 15 per cent.” For years, doctors had no alternatives for women who wanted to enhance their breast size. But that has changed with increased use of fat grafting.
The procedure allows doctors to take fat from the patient’s stomach and hips and use it to enhance the breasts. Doctors say it can add one half to three-quarters of a breast cup size for about the same cost as implants (approximately $9,000).
“Fat grafting will never replace implants but it is a great alternative for those who want a small, natural enhancement of the breast,” Dr. Khanna said.
Doctors can also perform breast lifts to raise the breasts, along with fat implants. Dr. Khanna said it’s all in response to demands from women who say they don’t want foreign material in their bodies. “People are saying…if you can use something not foreign and rearrange me, I’ll take that,” she said.
Breast enhancements are still among the top cosmetic procedures performed in Canada, with some 20,000 operations per year.