Benefits of breast enhancement can outweigh risks, some students say

(U-WIRE) She has wanted them since the sixth grade. But what arrived in junior high for most girls never quite came for Jessica Davis: breasts.

So she bought them in college.

Davis, a dental hygiene junior at the University of Oklahoma, opted for breast augmentation surgery in October and said she could not be happier with her decision.

“I’d do it again 10 times in a row if that’s what it took,” she said. “I am really happy with it.”

James Koehler, a cosmetic surgeon at Tulsa Surgical Arts, estimates 10 to 15 percent of his patients are college-aged women.

At 350,000 surgeries per year in the United States, Koehler said breast implants are the most popular cosmetic surgery.

He said reasons he sees college students wanting to have the surgery are associated most often with self-esteem.

“In the college-aged group, the biggest reason is usually somebody who’s an A or B cup and wants to look better in a bathing suit and have that confidence,” Koehler said.

A nursing senior, who will be referred to as Casey, said that is most of the reason she chose to have the surgery.

“I wanted to fill out more clothes and feel more feminine,” she said.

Her first swimsuit season with the new additions has yet to arrive, but Casey said she already feels more confident in what she wears.

The male attention, she said, is not bad either.

“If you have more cleavage, [guys] do give you more attention,” Casey said. “But that’s not why I got it done.”

Julia Ehrhardt, women’s studies and gender studies associate professor, said the perception that breasts can be “too small” comes from the ideals of a male society.

“It’s not one that women think of themselves,” she said. “It’s the idea that men will be looking at you and judging you as a sexual being.”

Davis said it was interesting to see how different men in her life reacted after she got the surgery.

She said her current boyfriend does not seem to mind, but that her ex-fiance said the new look is “just not her.”

“At first, you don’t feel like you. Then that goes away, and you don’t remember what it was like not to have them,” Davis said.

She said her family had to get used to the change as well.

Casey said she didn’t tell her family about the surgery until afterward, a choice she does not recommend to others. Her dad still does not know.

“They said if I can pay to get my boobs done, why don’t I pay for college?” she said.

Casey said she paid $3,800 out of pocket for the surgery.

With implants ranging between $4,000 to $6,000, price plays a huge role in the surgery decision, Koehler said. He said even if college students can afford it, they should look ahead to the cost of maintenance surgeries likely to follow.

Koehler said most patients need a replacement implant within 10 to 15 years, or sooner if complications follow the surgery.

He said he does not encourage students to use their education money to pay for implants, because replacements or complications could require more surgeries and funds they may not have.

Ehrhardt said she still hopes women will have the surgery for the right reasons, if at all.

“I would just ask, ‘Where does the self-consciousness come from? Who are you doing this for?’ Rather than saying, ‘Well, this is the size my breasts should be,'” she said.

Davis said the best way to prepare for surgery is to get second opinions, both from doctors and friends.

“I think you need to talk with your family for sure and make sure you’re not doing it for the wrong reasons,” she said. “It’s not to make you perfect.”

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