What would you pay to have big boobs for a day? If your answer is in the $2,000 to $4,000 range, then you’re in luck! Enter saline breast implants, a new procedure that’s been bouncing through headlines since a New York Times article chronicled its growing popularity. Created by injecting saline into the breast, the resulting enhancements, also known as ‘vacation boobs,’ are meant to be fun – and fleeting. They let women experience larger breast sizes without the hassle or commitment of implants.
WHO GETS THEM?
According to recent coverage, the procedure is popular with women who’d like a boost on their wedding day, or for other special occasions, like vacations. But Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, a board certified plastic surgeon, trained at the Cleveland Clinic and practicing in San Francisco, says he’s more inclined to give saline injections to post-mastectomy women, to stretch out their skin before inserting permanent implants, or to patients who’d like to test drive a bigger pair before standard breast augmentation.
ARE THEY SAFE?
That depends on whom you ask. Dr. Kaplan says they are, while Dr. Lyle Back, a Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery and a longstanding member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, says that a dearth of reliable research means many plastic surgeons feel the procedure is not only unnecessary, but “unethical and inappropriate.” He lists pain, bruising, infection, hematoma (large or extensive bruises), nerve damage, disfigurement and infection as potential side effects, adding that the unstudied nature of this procedure means there could be other unknown outcomes. Dr. Back prefers to use 3D simulation software and inserts to help potential patients explore the look and feel of augmented breasts.
HOW DO THEY COMPARE?
Saline-enhanced breasts look like regular boobs, but bigger. Initially they feel tight and hard, but will soften as the saline absorbs, says Dr. Kaplan. Both Dr. Kaplan and Dr. Back agree that traditional, permanent silicone implants better mimic real breasts.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
“There are plenty of non-surgical, non-procedural ways that women have been safely using for years to help out in socially pressured situations,” says Dr. Back, “Push up bras, wonder bras, or ‘chicken cutlets still work fine!”
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?
Do: Be a woman. Dr. Kaplan advises that men looking for temporary pecs, or anyone wanting a quick boost to another body part are out of luck. Saline injections are optimal for breasts, in women.
Don’t: Expect lasting results. Saline-enhanced breasts stay big for 24 to 48 hours before being reabsorbed back into the body.
Do: Be prepared to shell out $2,000 to $4,000 – about a third to half the cost of permanent implants.
Don’t: Make this decision on a whim. We received drastically different answers from the plastic surgeons we spoke to for this story. While Dr. Kaplan performs the surgery and assures us that it is safe, Dr. Back was unequivocal in his belief that “the 24-hour fix” requires further study before it can be considered ethical or legitimate.