Until now, the only way for a patient to simulate breast augmentation was placing an implant in a bra, or, in practices willing to make the investment–a 3D imaging technology mirroring the patient’s body. A New York City plastic surgeon has gone one step further, creating the look and feel of a breast augmentation using saline injections. He coined the term “vacation breasts” and claims they last 2-3 days. He is working on a formula to ultimately extend the experience to two weeks. This practice has sparked debate across the specialty with plastic surgeons squarely in one camp or the other. Fun or foolish? Meet Dr. Dan Del Vecchio of Boston and Dr. William P. Adams Jr. of Dallas who have opposing points of view on the topic.
All fluff and no substance?
Dr. Adams calls the notion of vacation breasts the epitome of “…advanced marketing…with no proven benefit.” He also refutes the idea that the saline can last 2-3 days. In actuality it is closer to 2-3 hours. Dr. Del Vecchio agrees with that misleading timeframe, but that is where their agreement comes to a halt. “You have to admit, if a patient can look at themselves for even 3-4 hours and get really excited, that beats the heck out of Vectra 3D imaging.” Dr. Del Vecchio believes feeling new breasts from the inside out might be enough to make the patient more confident to schedule surgery. What’s so wrong with that?
Plenty, according to Dr. Adams who proclaims the whole notion “illogical.” He cites the potential risks of putting a needle in a breast: scarring, bruising, infection. Fellow physicians who have blogged on the topic seem to agree with Dr. Adams. Some fear scarring can influence mammography’s ability to detect cancer. Others believe a needle in the wrong place could puncture a lung. Then, Dr. Adams asks, “How much saline?” Breasts could potentially be different sizes as the saline is absorbed giving the patient a perfect B and D cup side by side. Not a good look. “Vectra 3D imaging is a better alternative. Who doesn’t want state of the art?”
The risks of trying from the inside out
Dr. Del Vecchio respectfully disagrees. “Needles are no big deal.” He admits the majority of women would be fine with imaging alone, but “…for a small number of patients who want to (take their new breasts) home for the afternoon, it is harmless.” He adds that looking at a “cartoon character image on a computer screen” doesn’t come close to looking in a mirror while touching, feeling and seeing their profile.” Dr. Del Vecchio does make the point that it is not for every patient, but for those who are interested, “Why not?”
Both doctors agreed to disagree on the topic. Women who have had the procedure report positive experiences. The cost, stated as being between $2500 and $3500 may be prohibitive for most. Doctors on both sides of the issue stress exercising caution. The procedure has not been widely studied. In the event it becomes a more popular trend, the door swings open for a variety of non-board certified practitioners to exploit patients interested in a “quick fix” who may unwittingly absorb higher risks along with their saline.