BOOB JOB If you could try out life with bigger breasts for a day, would you do it? Liz Krieger checks out the controversial new lunchtime lift.
Cinderella’s fairy g o dmo t h e r turned a tattered dress and a pumpkin into a shimmering gown and a lavish ride. Remember, though, there was one catch: The makeover lasted only until midnight. With his InstaBreast technique, Norman Rowe, a New York plastic surgeon, is playing fairy godmother to women temporarily seeking larger, fuller breasts, but his handiwork also lasts for only one night. In about 20 minutes, you can go from flat-chested to cleavage-proud.
Rowe’s method is remarkably simple: He designates a site at the edge of each nipple, and after the area is anaesthetised, he injects about a half-litre of sterile saline solution – essentially salt water – into the patient’s breast tissue. He manoeuvres the needle at various angles to different areas, expanding each breast until it reaches the desired fullness. The saline is gradually absorbed into the bloodstream, with the full effect lasting about 24 hours. (Rowe says that saline is considered perfectly safe; it’s the same stuff you would get in an IV if you were dehydrated.)
While some doctors suggest that instant breast augmentation is just a fad, it’s hard to ignore its potential (consider the hundreds of thousands of women who don’t hesitate to have volumisers injected in their face). And the desire for bigger breasts is as popular as ever: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 313,327 breast augmentations and 137,233 breast lifts were performed in the US in 2013. “Women want cleavage,” Rowe says matter-of-factly. “And this is fast.”
Fast results were just what Shavon Jovi, 28, a model and aspiring actress, was hoping for when she underwent the procedure with Rowe several months ago. After a few pricks of an anaesthetic into the skin surrounding the nipples, Rowe injected the anaesthetic-laced saline solution into her 32A breasts, one syringe at a time. The effect was an instant fullness that brought her chest to a C cup. “For the longest time, I’ve wanted to get a breast augmentation,” says Jovi. “I was sort of shocked when I saw them, but I loved it immediately.” Within two days she was back to her natural size (how long it takes depends on how your body metabolises the fluid).
So why have the now-you-see‘em, now-you-don’t procedure? Like many of Rowe’s patients, Jovi wanted to “try on” implants in a way that computer imaging just can’t mimic, says Rowe, adding that some of his patients go for the temporary inflation for special occasions, such as a wedding, a big birthday, or a beach vacation.
Nicole, a 30-year-old mother of two, spent a day walking around with saline-inflated breasts, and a few months later went under the knife for implants. “It was amazing to see what my breasts would be like,” she recalls. As for how it felt? I’ve had Botox and fillers, and it’s similar.” About 75 percent of Rowe’s patients who opt for the procedure go on to get implants. However, it isn’t a helpful test drive for every woman. “If you need both a lift and an augmentation, the saline won’t give you a realistic approximation,” explains Rowe.
Not everyone is singing the praises of the short-lived boob job, and there are limitations and risks to it. Since the skin of both breasts is pierced by the needle, bruising can occur. And like any procedure that penetrates the skin, infection is possible. Some doctors see other downsides as well, cautioning that undergoing the procedure repeatedly could cause the skin to stretch – “like a Slinky that you stretch out past the point of no return,” says Adam Kolker, a plastic surgeon in New York. Rowe counters that this is highly unlikely. “The skin has to be stretched for a much longer and continuous time period for it to display permanent stretching,” he says. Heidi Waldorf, a New York dermatologist, agrees, noting that having the procedure once is “probably okay. As long as it’s short-lived, the area should return to its normal contour,” However, she has concerns about stretching for those who return for more.
For her part, Jovi wanted to capture the results before they faded away. “I definitely posted a few #InstaBoob selfies that day,” she says. In the spirit of the procedure, though, perhaps she should have used Snapchat.