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Beware the Double Bubble- Bigger Can be Deadly

Bigger Can be DeadlySome of us might remember the Wrigley Double Mint commercial -"Double your pleasure, double your fun with a Wrigley Double Mint gum." Later, this was applied to breast enlargement or augmentation. The idea is that more or bigger is better.

While this may be true if you want to freshen your breath with a chewing gum, when applied to your breast, the equation may be different. For not only can breast augmentation be dangerous, it can be downright deadly.

The French, who gave us the brassiere, originally designed to support big breasts, are now recalling silicone implants made by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP). Reports indicate that this now defunct manufacturer used non-medical grade silicone in its implants.

This apparent inferior silicone has been linked to increased rate of ruptures and increased rates of an otherwise rare but highly fatal form of breast cancer - Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL). Authorities in France are asking women to have the implants removed, while in Britain and Brazil they are asking women to do greater than usual checks with their surgeons.

As far back as 2000, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to PIP citing deficiencies in its product; but French and European Union authorities seemed oblivious to the grave potential risk, until now.

However, some observers think this may be part of the modus operandi of regulatory bodies in Europe and the US. That is, they may be more willing to blacklist products from a foreign country as opposed to their own. The FDA was criticized for relying on information provided by manufactures who have an interest in keeping their own products on the market.


In spite of who might be right or wrong, there is no doubt that implants can be dangerous even in cases when the right material is used. Not that this has stopped an ever-increasing number of women all over the world from getting implants.

For example, according to Dr Donald Brown, plastic surgeon of San Francisco, over 5 million women in the United States have had breast augmentation as of 2010. This represents a 39 percent increase between 2000 and 2010. Further, in the US in 2010 alone, over 2 billion dollars were spent on breast implants.

Is this trend, at least in part, being fueled by a superficial sense of beauty, media celebration of women with big fake - boobs (eg Pamela Anderson) or women who think that this can help them to get a man? Of course, there are some women (a small percentage) who have these procedures done for medical reasons.

There is no doubt that many women are satisfied (or at least claim they are) with their breast augmentation. However, for hundreds of thousands of women, the results are much different.

The same way we see many movie stars walking around with botched botox and faces where plastic surgery has obviously gone wrong, breast augmentation surgery has many bloopers. Some of these just make the breasts ugly; others can kill.


A common complication of breast augmentation is lopsided breasts. Now, for most women, the breasts are not totally symmetrical, but due to uneven healing, material failure or surgical error, the unevenness may be really pronounced after surgery. This may lead to low self esteem, stress, and another expensive trip to the surgeon.

Infections that occur after the breast surgery are generally not difficult to treat. But at times, they can be resistant to antibiotics, and one has to return to the surgeon to remove the implant. Even deaths have occurred due to these infections.

The phenomenon of bottoming out occurs when the implant rides too low in the breast tissue, and the nipples point downwards. To correct this condition involves even more technical and expensive surgery than the original.

In some cases of breast augmentation, the surgeon takes away your cleavage, as the breasts are too close to each other. This condition is called synmastia, and most likely is corrected with another trip to the surgeon.

In a condition known as capsular contracture, the scar tissue from the surgery creates a capsule around the implant. This causes the implant to feel hard and misshapen, and distorts and disfigures the breast.


Then there is the "double bubble" breast deformity. This is a postsurgical complication that occurs when one or both breast implants drop down below the inframammary crease (where the breast meets the chest). This creates a line across the lower part of the breast. Hence, your double bubble may lead to the "four-breast effect" and revision surgery.

While most of the complications may spoil the aesthetics of the breast, there are some that may cause serious medical complications, and even death. For example, ALCL is a deadly form of cancer, but normally has a very low incidental rate. However, in women with breast implants this rate is much higher.

Even in cases when ALCL does not cause death, it causes pain, swelling, asymmetry, and lumps. This often leads to depression and anxiety among women and their mates. And there have been cases of suicide of women, when they, or their mates, were dissatisfied with the results of breast augmentation surgery.

What is the take home message? If you are going to do breast augmentation, do you research, know the possible complications, and your risk factors for the same. Learn as much as possible about the expertise of your surgeon and the quality of continuing care.

But the bigger question may be, do you need bigger breasts? Is the quality of your life so low that you need to artificially lift your breasts higher? Is your concept of beauty so set by a superficial Hollywood value system? Do you think so low of yourself that you have to get bigger breast to please a man?

Only you can decide; but the quality of what lies beneath your chest wall - your heart - is considerably more important than the size of what lies upon it.

Dr Jerry Simon (NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre, 268 4620631, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).


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8 Comments In This Article   

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RE: Beware the Double Bubble- Bigger Can be Deadly

#8 Observant » 2012-05-04 08:57

A very good topic Dr. Simon, I am not a woman with big breasts. Alot of women think that men find big boobs attractive. Personally I don't think that we should use any form of implants to boost our self connfidence.
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#7 Dr. J Simon » 2012-02-06 15:18

Firstly, thanks for your comments.
And this is the purpose of an opinion article to express a point of view not to be the authority.
In the article you have would seen that I wrote that some women have breast implants done for MEDICAL reasons and MANY women are satisfied (or claim) with the job.
For alot of women though, it goes horribly wrong.
You may think what I wrote is dribble, but of the 300 000 affected by PIP's low grade silicone quite a number are already dead.
I am sure that fair skin (like big boobs) would enhance some women's self esteem. But it would be dribble for the doctor to tell you beware of the products that are used to bleach the skin, they may be dangerous.
Or may be it is better that I tell women that big breasts and pale face are better that a healthy body and mind in male chauvinistic society.
Like you said there are some companies that would more readily pay for breast implants, rather than radiation ( or curative ) therapy.
Maybe those companies are run by men who prefer to see big breasts on a dead woman.
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#6 Microwave chef » 2012-02-06 09:12

For those ladies who get reconstruction after mastectomy, Chef hope we can find a safer way to restore you but prays they will soon find a real cure so you no longer need to suffer all this( you have Chef's love an sympathy) for those who feel the need to cheat Chef advices that god has told you why that is a bad idea ( try fact that in your bible and see what you will conclude)

Dr Simon as always it was a great read and very informative with some nice humor and hard truth. Informed you have a valid point regarding those who need reconstruction , are those the majority implant patients???
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#5 Microwave chef » 2012-02-06 09:10

maybe you do not get the concept of an OP ED it is a point of view, not a point of all the facts and opinions.

but ok lets rag on the males maybe you will feel a little better.
1 all men take Viagra because they have a heart condition and high blood pressure, it is not about the massive erection but the benefits to our health ;-) even if it is know to kill and cause blindness.... :lol: :lol:

lets get real , you have a point there is a percentage of women who get breast implants after mastectomy...there is a much larger percentage of women who get breast enlargement because they believe it increases their physical appearance...( networth???) an eye catcher just like guys with fancy cars and expensive dress .those women should try diet and exercise if they want to look better, not sacks of silicone, that's cheating so you do not have chef sympathy at all .
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Identity

#4 Informed » 2012-02-06 01:21

This is a very sad article indeed. Please, before spewing such dribble on-line, please do some research. What you lack in research, you more than make up for it with being narrow minded. First of all, a large portion of breast implants are a result of lumpectomies and mastectomies stemming from Breast Cancer. Often, and I can't believe I am telling a p** this, our bodies are tied to our personal identities and self confidence. It is not always about aesthetics, but about retaining our identities with those around us.While there are people who elect to have breast implants for purely aesthetic reasons because it makes them feel better about themselves, there are also people who call themselves "Dr." to make themselves seem more important and authoritative. This article wreaks of male chauvinism, and perhaps you should spend more time understanding the population you are critiquing and less time making general statements with little support and little purpose. Perhaps, you should focus on the cause and culture that surrounds women who have elected surgeries. Companies will often pay for breast implants and not radiation therapy. Maybe, you should look in the mirror.
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RE: Beware the Double Bubble- Bigger Can be Deadly

#3 my way of helping » 2012-02-05 20:20

I am sorry Dr. Simon, I did not get to read your article as a result of the picture, it was distracting, and nice, wow. Just kidding. However, thank you for this article.

Should put it in a caribbean news paper in USA
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RE: Beware the Double Bubble- Bigger Can be Deadly

#2 Morris » 2012-02-05 17:20

Very good article Doc! The amount of stuff women go through to plkease those they come in contact with because of society's definition of beautiful/acceptable . These flotation devices are only good for use around water. LOL!!!
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RE: Beware the Double Bubble- Bigger Can be Deadly

#1 Antiguan Abroad » 2012-02-05 11:03

Doctor, are you trying to single-handedly put an end to the fantasies of countless men and women?...LOL. On a serious note, this is a very good and informative article on the perils of breast enlargement procedures. I have personally never been a fan of artificially inflated mammary glands....but a lot of women (in the US and other countries) seem to think that men find it attractive. I haven't been back to Antigua in quite a while, but I don't recall this phenomenon being a major concern the last time I was there. Have things now changed? Are Antiguan women now performing these procedures in larger numbers?
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Dr. Jerry Simon

Dr.Jerry Simon,a general physician, is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and Villa Clara (Cuba) Medical School. He has previously worked in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. Presently he is Medical Director of the NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre and is a certified member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

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