The implant index: Is cup size the new economic indicator?

14 September 2009 | hot topics in plastic surgery

A retired colleague of mine came up with the idea that plastic surgery bookings are a marker of returning consumer confidence and predict a rebound from a faltering economy. If that is the case, then we are headed in the right direction. One sign is that women who have been postponing their facelifts are no longer waiting, and breast augmentation is more popular than ever.

But I have noticed another trend. It appears that no only do hemlines come down during a recession, but the choice of breast implant size drops too. Interestingly, while breast augmentation surged past liposuction to claim the number one spot in cosmetic surgery popularity despite economic woes last year, the implants seemed to be smaller after years of edging ever larger. The smallest category, 300 cc’s or less (a full “B” cup for the typical patient) increased from less than a third of all patients to about half, in tandem with more widely recognized economic indicators. Breasts were almost literally shrinking as our economic institutions collapsed.
There is of course no way of knowing why this should be the case but I have a few ideas. (It isn’t cost, all implants cost the same regardless of size.) Women in the Northwest have always favored a more natural look, whether it be with their facelift or their breast implants, but in some parts of the country it became almost a status symbol to display the results of the plastic surgeon’s touch. Fake became the new natural. But when so many started feeling the pinch of the recession, flaunting one’s assets became less fashionable.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, fashion trends are definitely moving in the direction of a less edgy look, and the models being featured most prominently during Fashion Week reflect this. Managers at Elite Model management are quoted as saying that models like Joan Smalls are more “commercially viable” because they fit the natural aesthetic. Models with the classic look are replacing the ones with more exaggerated features.

Whether or not this is useful will depend on how the Implant Index performs during the return to economic stability. If it holds true, the “C” cup economy is where we want to be. It certainly makes more sense to me that some other ideas that have been proposed, like the size of boxer shorts (true!), but in any case signs are positive. Meanwhile, I will continue to focus on the natural look regardless of size.


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