Do doctors have an obligation to say no when a patient wants too many breast enlargement surgeries, or super-sized implants? What if it would help her professionally, say if she’s a stripper or in porn? Twenty-three-year old Carolin Berger, a German porn star, died last week after her sixth breast enlargement operation, in which she was hoping to go from a 34F to a 34G. The clinic that had performed her first five breast augmentation surgeries would not agree to a sixth, so Berger found another practice that would do it. Now two of her doctors have been charged with negligent manslaughter.
This brings up the interesting and important question of when “enough is enough” regarding breast implant surgery. It would seem similar to how a good bartender cuts off wasted patrons before they can get into serious trouble; it’s the responsibility of the sane, sober person to make the call for them. According to Los Angeles cosmetic surgeon Steve Teitelbaum, who specializes in breast augmentation procedures, that *is *what a respectable surgeon should do: “There are easy ways to rule out candidates for surgery—people with unreasonable expectations, body dysmorphic disorder, or who want things that look bizarre or are unsafe.” Problems can occur, though, when a doctor’s idea of what’s reasonable or even attractive is, well, looser than most: “There is no standardization about when enough is enough,” Teitelbaum says. “It is an infinite gray area.”
Now, with celebrities like Heidi Montag seeking size H implants, the most in-demand breast sizes may be expanding. “The problem with big implants is not just that they look ridiculous, but that over time they may create uncorrectable breast deformities, such as stretching of the skin, thinning of breast tissue, and the creation a depression in the rib cage from the pressure,” Teitelbaum says. “I have a strict limit about how large I will go. I turn away at least one potential client per week.” (Who, if they’re like Berger, will shop around for a doctor who will perform the surgery.)
So we toss out the question: Should breast implant size—or a maximum number of cosmetic surgeries—be regulated in some way? Or, if a woman can find a doctor willing to perform it, does she have the right to take a chance and have any surgery she wants?
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