Probably, the most common among plastic surgery is breast augmentation or breast implants. Just in case you are wondering about how frequently this surgical procedure is done worldwide, data would tell us that in 2015 alone, there was a total of 1,488,992 cases reported. As technology on this particular plastic surgery also advances, it will not be a surprise that by this year, it has already doubled. After all, it has been four (4) years since the data was taken.
Breast augmentation is also undeniably very popular in Asian countries. If we narrow down the statistics to Asia, the big portion of the total number of reported cases would have been done on Thailand, South Korea, or here in Singapore. These three (3) countries have made a reputation when it comes to this procedure. I should know as there has been a lot of patients that came to me as being their first choice but there are also who would purposely fly abroad to undergo breast augmentation.
To help you understand breast augmentation better here in Singapore and other Asian countries, let me answer these three why:
1. WHY is it that many women are having breast augmentation procedures despite it being risky and carries judgment and dismissal by the general public?
Here are the possible reasons why women choose to have their breasts augmented:
- Small breast. The term flat-chested is not new to us, a name usually referred to some women who may not have fully developed breasts after puberty. These women often find themselves teased with their naturally small breasts thus their need to make it bigger. This is one of the major sentiments of my patients. And most of them have an exact size that they want.
- Weight loss. It can’t be denied that losing weight has a lot of health benefits but sadly, it also lead to excess skin and sagging especially in previous fatty areas of your body – including the breast. I have also had some patients with this concern. They would choose to go through breast augmentation procedure to have fuller breast as it will complement well with a fitter and toner body they have worked so hard for.
- Pregnancy. This is a life-changing event for any women, and we are not only talking about emotionally but also physically. The body of a woman after pregnancy will definitely change. Her breast will get smaller, droop, and loose volume. Most of my patients with this reason usually does this along with liposuction and tummy tucks. This is what we call the “mommy makeover”. One of my patients just recently as she went back for post-care, teared up in joy saying it helped her go back to loving her body again.
- Asymmetrical breast. There are also some women who go to me ranting that their breasts are not of the same size. Though breasts (or most parts of the body) are naturally asymmetrical, some women do have noticeable imbalanced and asymmetrical breasts. Going through this procedure will make their breasts balanced and helps them find more suitable bras and bathing suits to their liking without worrying that their breasts are not of the same cup size.
- Staying young. Ageing also does have a great effect on a woman’s breast. The more a woman age, the more her breast will the sag. Though this is perhaps the least of the reasons I have heard from women coming to my clinic but this is also not a new concept. (The age range of women coming by my clinic is usually from 20-35 years old.) Of course, breast augmentation will help restore a woman’s youthful appearance.
- Self-esteem and confidence. Breasts play a big part in the overall femininity of a woman. If she is not happy with her breast, it will be evident in how she carries herself. A woman who is satisfied with the size, volume, and proportion of their busts will also have increased self-esteem and boosted confidence. This ultimately sums up all the other mentioned above.
- Mastectomy. Breast augmentation is not just all about the looks. Women who have gone through a mastectomy for breast cancer or any other serious health issues commonly choose to undergo breast augmentation to reconstruct their breast. It helps them heal emotionally and believe they can still live a normal life. And surprisingly, I have done quite a number of cases like this. Honestly, it also gives satisfaction to be working on cases like this.
For a surgeon like me, it is crucial and important to know the real reason why a patient would want to have a breast augmentation. This is for us to cater to their true needs and meet their satisfaction. At the same time, delving into the end goal of the patient breaks the stigma and creates a more dynamic patient-surgeon relationship. This kind of practice is not limited to me but is widely evident and exercised in Singapore. But despite the positive work done locally, it leads me to the next two why’s.
2. Why do some Singaporeans have their breast augmentation done overseas?
Using my expertise and experience in this field, I will compare the top three (3) Asian countries that dominate the breast augmentation arena in three (3) points:
- Cost. The amount of money that is willing to be shelled out for the procedure is different from one patient to another. The budget, I believe, plays a very big part in the decision-making process as to where what, and how to proceed with it – if not, the biggest factor that seals the deal for many women. This is actually the first question when a woman enters my clinic for inquiry (some do not go back anymore).
The cost of breast augmentation is way cheaper and could save you a thousand dollars in Thailand, followed by Korea and then Singapore. Though there is only a slim difference between the prices for Thailand and Korea. It is no wonder that some Singaporeans, especially those with budget constraints would fly overseas for an implant.
The reason why the procedure is cheaper in both Thailand and Korea is that the cost of the silicone itself. In Thailand and Korea, silicone that will be used for the procedure will cost around $600-800 and $1000-1500, respectively, while in Singapore will cost you $2500 above. Judging by the numbers, you would really go to Thailand or overseas.
But what they don’t see here is the bigger picture that they would also pay for plane tickets, accommodations, and other necessities in their travel overseas. So practicality wise, it does not sound so practical at all.
- Medical Practice. There is also another reason why breast augmentation overseas is much cheaper – they are not strict with compliance that all should be accredited, plastic surgeons. I actually have a friend in Thailand, who is a general surgeon but is also handling plastic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation. My friend is doing it for years now so it can be said that he is well trained but the fact that he is not yet a certified plastic surgeon yet is allowed to perform specific procedures says a lot about the importance of good medical practice for them.
This is not only happening in Thailand but also in other Asian countries. However, Singapore is very strict with this. Operating clinics are required to submit accreditation certificates of their employed plastic surgeons and if they are found of non-accreditation, the clinics will be closed down. That is how serious we are in providing excellent service – which leads us to our next point.
- Quality. In every service rendered, the most important is its quality. Quality in plastic surgery equates not only to the finished product but also includes the consulting stage, the actual procedure, the finished product, and of course, the after-care.
It is my personal oath to never compromise the quality of my service to my patients. I am very hands-on in handling my patients that I really take time to know their reasons why they are going through the procedure and their expected outcome. I see to it that the procedure is well explained and as well as what are the realistic expectations. This minimizes the possible dissatisfaction, worst, complications the patient may experience after. Also, in Singapore, plastic surgeons are also discouraged to perform over 3 operations a day. This allows us to be efficient and effective.
However, in Thailand and Korea, surgeons work in the volume base. For them, the more surgeries they do on a day, the better. This practice actually has an effect on the quality of the procedure given to the client. For one, if many people are waiting outside your clinic, as a surgeon, you will also work on your patients faster to accommodate everyone. This lessens the time for the surgeon to discuss the pros and cons of the procedure. Not to mention guiding the patient properly in making an informed decision when it comes to choosing the breast implant to be used is compromised. This results in butchered jobs and dissatisfied clients.
I cannot count anymore how many reworks have I done because many plastic surgery clinics are not sacrificing quality over quantity. As they have said, it is often that when a service becomes cheap, something has been sacrificed – in all cases, however, make sure that it is not quality.
3. Why is it recommended to have breast augmentation done in Singapore?
- Cost-effective. In a bigger picture, you can actually save more if you will have your breast augmented locally. You will no longer think of unnecessary expenses such as plane tickets, accommodations, and the likes. Not only that you saved money, but you also save time and lessen effort in having the procedure. There are so many good plastic surgery clinics in Singapore.
- Better pre-treatment and after-care service. Having your procedure overseas also means lesser opportunity to correctly discuss your wants and needs to your surgeon before the procedure. For one, you will have language barriers, and secondly, as most clinics there work in volume base, they won’t have much time to prepare you. At the same time, you will also have limited after-care service, as you will have to go back to your country and cannot just quickly go back in case there will be complications after the procedure. Having done it locally allows you to go back to your surgeon when the need arises.