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Breast implants as graduation gifts "not uncommon" in Southeast - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Breast implants as graduation gifts "not uncommon" in Southeast Texas

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BEAUMONT - Beaumont plastic surgeon Dr. Ben Beckert told 12News it's something he sees every year.

"It's not uncommon for someone to come in requesting to have breast implants as a graduation gift," Beckert said.

Beckert said he typically performs at least one breast augmentation surgery for a graduating senior every year. Last year he did it for a pair of friends.

"They went to the same high school... they both were going to go to the same college, they had their surgeries one day after the next... I've seen them back since then and they've been happy," said Beckert.

Beckert said the average age for breast implant patients is between 25 and 35, but that 18-year-olds have the same worries when it comes to their bodies.

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"Our society values large breasts, fuller breasts... many women feel like they're not very feminine... most parents when they come in... they're just doing whatever they can to make their child happy," he said.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 3,300 girls under the age of 19 had breast augmentation surgery in 2013, a  64% increase compared to the year 2000.
     
The surgery is not without rare risks. In 2008 an 18-year-old Florida girl died while undergoing breast surgery due to complications with anesthesia. Beckert says something like that happening is extremely rare.

The Food and Drug Administration website lists 30 complications that can arise following breast augmentation surgery.
     
"Breast augmentation is truly a lifetime of maintenance," said Beckert. "The average implant's going to last 10-15 years, so that means if somebody's 18 years old and they're planning to maintain these breast implants, they may go through 6... 7... 8 implants in their lifetime."

Most women can choose between silicone or saline implants, but high school- aged girls only have one option: saline. In 2006, the FDA re-approved silicone implants for women after taking them off the market for years due to health concerns, but patients must be 22 years old to get them. Patients only have to be 18 for saline.
    
Beckert said both are safe, but thinks silicone is better.

"The silicone implant certainly has a much more flowing consistency, much more like a natural breast, the saline implant really does feel like a thick water balloon," he said.

Beckert recommends younger patients take that into consideration, along with the fact that their bodies can change over time.

"It's not uncommon for someone to be very flat-chested at 18, and if they waited 5-10 years, if they happen to get pregnant, or gain weight, their breast volume may get such that they didn't need implants in the first place."

Regardless, Beckert says the results can be life-changing for young women.

"It is often-times a very confidence-inspiring operation, they often-times are far more outgoing... it is one of the many rewarding surgeries that I have the pleasure of doing."

A typical breast augmentation surgery costs about $5,000. Beckert says the best advice he can give to parents thinking about getting their daughters the surgery as a gift is to research the procedure extensively, and discuss it with a board-certified plastic surgeon.
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