Thu, Feb 24, 2005 - Page 13 News List

More women trying to go from none to some

Breast augmentation saw a decline after silicone was banned in Taiwan, but new methods are catching on

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

"The reasons for getting the surgery vary depending on a client's age. It used to be a woman wanted to impress her husband. Maybe her breasts got smaller after giving birth, or maybe her husband was having an affair. The younger clients [in their early 20s] are more concerned with body image," Ho said.

The surgery takes anywhere from one to two hours, but the recovery period lasts several months. Stitches are removed after a week, and swelling and bruising eases in two weeks, but the final shape does not surface until at least three months after surgery. A new set of breasts costs from NT$150,000 to NT$200,000.

As with any operation there are potential complications. Short-term problems include prolonged swelling and blood clots. Long-term complications can result if a body rejects the implants. But such occurrences are rare, said Pan, who claims a 100-percent success rate so far.

"The number-one problem with plastic surgery is unrealistic expectations. No amount of surgery will make a body or life perfect," he said.

There have been a number of "horror stories" from operations performed by non-certified and unqualified doctors. Pan also performs corrective surgeries on patients unsatisfied with the results of earlier breast jobs.

Alternatives

Less costly and less risky options are on the rise. There is a wide selection of massagers, pumps and pills available on the Internet and at the back of some women's magazines.

Alternatively, women in Taiwan have the advantage of traditional medicine, which claims to help firm breast tissue and enhance size.

James Tseng (曾文俊), a traditional Chinese doctor in Taipei's Shilin district, said requests for information regarding breast augmentation are frequent.

Tseng knew the recipe for a relevant concoction off the top of his head. It included six ingredients, one of which is papaya (perhaps the basis of the myth that papaya milkshakes increases bust size). Acupuncture and self-massage techniques are also prescribed, and acupuncture is becoming the most popular, he said.

For Tseng and many women, traditional medicine is a safer alternative to implants. "Plastic surgery is the least natural thing you can do to your body," he said.

But not everyone cares. "If I can make myself look better, then why not?" asked Maggie Hsu when talking about her decision to get implants this year. "I tried massage and herbal pills, but it didn't work. This is something I've wanted for a long time but never had the money for. Now I do."

And there was no pressure from her boyfriend, who she said dislikes the idea. "He doesn't understand why I want to spend money on something that is fake. But it's my body." And ultimately it's going to be her decision.

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