MTV aired a show a couple of weeks ago entitled, “I Hate My Plastic Surgery.” It was an episode in the network’s “True Life” reality series, and if the show is really representative of how young women think about themselves, their bodies and their options, then it’s truly scary. What’s even more frightening is the way the show presents health information in the course of following its characters, allowing statements the women make to sound, well, true.
The first of the two young women featured, Amanda, decided her breast implants were making her sick. She and her doctor concluded that she had the symptoms of “silicone toxicity poisoning” and that she should have her implants removed. There was no mention of the fact that the Food and Drug Administration declared silicone breast implants safe in 2006 after decades of study, or that medical grade silicone is used inside the body in feeding tubes, artificial joints and other applications. Or that most doctors’ stand on silicone poisoning is, “Never heard of it.”
Few people would say that the risk of an adverse reaction to silicone is absolutely zero. In fact, there is discussion on the Web about silicone toxicity (often followed by a pitch for breast enhancement creams or pumps). But it does seem irresponsible for MTV to simply accept—and therefore broadcast—the view that Amanda’s breast implants made her ill.
As the episode drew to a close, Amanda, happy to have her implants out but now wondering if she’s too small, investigated breast augmentation via fat transfer. Her doctor of choice, a gynecologist/urologist with “advanced training in cosmetic procedures” (read: not a board-certified plastic surgeon), agreed that this new form of breast enhancement is totally natural and did not mention any of the risks or drawbacks. The fact is, the kinks are still being worked out of this new procedure and many physicians withholding judgment on whether fat transfer for breast augmentation is safe and effective.