When countries experience shortages of goods, the most common are food supplies and other necessities. However, luxury items can also be in short supply. Currently, Venezuela is experiencing a shortfall of an unusual kind: plastic surgeons and their patients are having trouble getting safe, FDA-approved breast implants. While this shortage may seem comparatively insignificant, to the women in this country, restricted access to implants is causing frustration–and even danger.
A Cultural Trend
Venezuelan women are very focused on appearance, and plastic surgery is common. Tens of thousands of breast augmentations were performed in the country last year, and Venezuela is one of the Top 5 countries for the procedure, despite a smaller population than the other four countries on the list–the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, and Germany. Before the shortage, some pharmacies and workplaces even held raffles for breast implants.
Why the Shortfall?
Currency controls are making it difficult for Venezuelan businesses to get the goods they need from overseas, and the problem is affecting a wide variety of goods. Breast implants may not seem like an important commodity, but in Venezuela, the lack of safe implant options is forcing some patients to get creative.
Turning to Unsafe Alternatives
Fortunately, ethical surgeons are refusing to use implants they feel are unsafe, however that does not stop women from seeking less scrupulous doctors to perform their operations. Implants from China are often used as an alternative to FDA approved implants. These implants are under less-strict safety standards and inspections, and thus, are available at a lower cost. This shortage of safe, approved breast implants puts many women in danger. Some women are choosing implants of the wrong size, compromising results, while women with ruptured implants are being put at risk, due to the shortage of safe replacements.
Breast Augmentation in the United States
Fortunately for women in the United States seeking breast augmentation, there is no difficulty finding safe implants and talented plastic surgeons. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of implants, it is important to do your research and choose the surgeon and implants that are right for you. The basic types of implants readily available are:
A safe and common implant type, saline implants are filled with sterile salt water, and can be filled and adjusted during surgery. Saline implants are available to women over 18, and provide a firm and consistent shape to the breast. Should the implant leak, it will collapse, and the solution will be absorbed by the body. Some people feel that a downside of saline implants is their less-natural feel.
Silicone Gel Implants
Though silicone gel implants were recalled for several years, they have been shown to be very safe, and tend to feel more natural than some other implants. Silicone implants are approved for women over 22, and are a good choice for women with little natural breast tissue. The downside of silicone implants is the risk of rupture–should the implant break, the body will not absorb the silicone, which can cause complications.
"Gummy Bear" Implants
The newest type of breast implant, form-stable silicone implants are commonly referred to as "gummy bear" implants because of their consistency. They reduce the risk of rupture complications, and are shaped rather than round, as the silicone does not move with the body. Drawbacks of gummy bear implants include a longer incision to place the implant, and unusual appearance in case of rotation.
Implant Shapes and Sizes
In addition to the type of implant, there are also many different shapes and sizes available, which your plastic surgeon will be able to advise you on. You can test out several shapes and sizes by putting implants of different sizes into your bra under your shirt, and you may be surprised at which sizes look best on you. Be flexible about what you want–you may end up changing your mind from what you originally envisioned.
Choosing Your Surgeon
You can maximize your chances of a good outcome by discussing your needs with a board certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience in breast augmentations. A qualified surgeon can help you determine the implant type and size that is right for you, as well as your candidacy for breast surgery.
Dr. Haitham Masri is a respected surgeon at Masri Clinic for Laser & Cosmetic Surgery, and works with patients to find solutions customized to their needs. Dr. Haitham Masri has been helping patients get beautiful, natural-looking results for over 25 years, and is standing by in Birmingham or Dearborn, Michigan, to help you plan your surgery. Call 866-487-3223 today to schedule your complimentary consultation.