PSC Roundtable

Breast Augmentation and Athletes

Breast Augmentation and Athletes

Australian Olympic sensation, Michelle Jenneke might have delivered a bit of a disappointing performance in Rio, but the focus off the track wasn’t about her hurdling. It was about her breast size. Turns out not only is the taboo of plastic surgery in the athletic setting interesting, but so is the sophistication and precision of breast augmentation surgery when it comes to toned athletes.

Dispelling the Urban Legend

Dr. Bruce Van Natta calls it, “a sign of our society’s emphasis on appearance,” where athletic ability takes a back seat to the, “did she or didn’t she,” curiosity about her breasts. Dr. Cliff Clark of Florida thinks Miss Jenneke did lots of women a favor by destroying an urban legend that being an athlete at the Olympic level somehow precludes getting breast implants. “If she was not comfortable with her body, and chose breast augmentation, more power to her,” says Clark.

How an Athletic Lifestyle Affects Breasts

Although there is little question female athletes are thrilled with their overall improved appearance and performance, some report feeling as though they have sacrificed some of their femininity. Van Natta makes the point that for many elite female athletes, the downside to being lean and toned is, “body fat is so low that it takes a hit on the volume of the breasts.” Breast augmentation surgery is one solution to the disproportion caused by training. It can bring a very positive change to their self-image.

female athlete sprinter

Special Considerations for Athletes  

Because female athletes have such low body fat and minimal natural breast tissue, great results require the expertise of a board certified plastics surgeon with advanced knowledge of female anatomy. There is less room for “error” because there is less fat to hide any flaws in implant placement. An experienced surgeon will also put emphasis on safety and a smooth recovery so training is not interrupted for too long.

During consultation, careful thought should be given to the size, shape, and placement of the implant. The specific sport, the athlete’s frame, and type of result the patient is expecting must be considered in parallel. While many female athletes benefit from newer generations of silicone implants in the smaller range, their size, shape, and profile will all be chosen based on individual body measurements and is determined on a case by case basis.

toned female athlete

Dirty Little Secret, for Some

Athletes are under more pressure than ever to maintain the perfect public image. Some athletes have been very open about their plastic surgery, while others are tight-lipped. Clark contends that over the past few decades, the stigma attached to having plastic surgery has really faded. On the other hand, Van Natta points out that there still exists a contingent of women who are putting off scheduling breast augmentation because of the message it sends, the worry over, “What will people think?”

Ultimately, whether a woman is a track star or just a supermom, both surgeons agree it is a highly personal decision to have breast augmentation, as is when they decide to share the news.

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