CBC News recently reported that Venezuelans have been facing critical shortages in key goods. More recently, the shortages have hit the plastic surgery industry. In some cases, the shortage has become so extreme that doctors have resorted to buying cheaper model implants that are sometimes the incorrect size. These implants are often made in China where the quality-control standards are not as high.
It’s actually rather shocking to hear about this lowering of standards with regards to breast implants in Venezuela. In 2011, Venezuelan health officials provided free operations to women who had received defective French breast implants from Poly Implant Prothese (PIP). While the operations were provided free of charge, replacement implants would have to be covered by the patient. The surgeries were projected to cost the country millions of dollars.
The breast implant scarcity comes in the wake of restrictive currency laws in the country that make it difficult for local businesses to import foreign goods. For this reason, plastic surgeons in the country have difficulty acquiring breast implants that have been approved by the FDA.
Venezuela may have the world’s highest plastic surgery rates, with women being appearance-conscious in the country. Breast augmentation is the most popular surgery performed, with 85,000 implants placed last year alone. One reporter who walked down the streets of Caracas said that many of the women appear to have work performed and that even the mannequins seem to have undergone breast augmentation surgery.
The surgery is so popular in Venezuela, that workplaces, pharmacies, and even politicians will raffle off breast implants.
At this point, women desperate for implants are making decisions that may not be best for their health or looks. Women who can’t find the implant in their desired size will sometimes choose a larger size, even if it is not recommended or contraindicated.
Women in Venezuela seem to be willing to go to great lengths in order to improve their appearance. Implants can cost as much as $600, which is equivalent to a one year’s salary. Chinese implants, on the other hand, are less expensive, but are also not FDA approved.
The fact that women are willing to save up their money for years in order to have breast augmentation surgery, highlights how easy American women have it when it comes to the same surgery. In the U.S. women have many options when it comes to breast augmentation surgery, from saline, to fat transfer procedures (breast augmentation with fat), to easy access to FDA approved silicone gel implants. Finding a truly skilled plastic surgeon is one of the more difficult choices a woman has to make when opting to undergo plastic surgery here in the US.
Fortunately, there are some very skilled plastic surgeons in the U.S. able to help women navigate their myriad of choices. Dr. Leonard Grossman, M.D. is one of the most experienced plastic surgeons in Brooklyn and Manhattan, who has been using silicone implants none-stop even since 1991 mandatory moratorium. Dr. Grossman performed key research for Mentor and Allergan Corporations on the safety of these implants and takes pride in helping women make the best aesthetic choices for their breast augmentation procedure.