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Faulty implant scandal stopped my longing for 'extra cleavage'

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Joanna Kiernan says the basic facts about breast
augmentation have now put her off surgery. Photo: David Conachy

Joanna Kiernan says the basic facts about breast augmentation have now put her off surgery. Photo: David Conachy

Joanna Kiernan says the basic facts about breast augmentation have now put her off surgery. Photo: David Conachy

A double-D endowed friend of mine has a habit of belittling my attempts to feign 'cleavage'. She will halt in her tracks and loudly admire 'the girls' perkiness, or indeed presence, on the few occasions that I ignore my flat chest and wear something low-cut.

The same lady, she assures me, envies my 'neatness'.

Another childhood friend and I used to have a constant competition over who was bigger -- a pathetic bid to be not labelled the smallest of our gang.

I've often noticed some men I know glance downwards just to see if I've suddenly developed, their eyes retreating back to my face seconds later with a look of utter confusion.

Besides said men, I am, at 26, perhaps the most breast-obsessed person you will ever meet.

I can tell an implant at a distance. Not only that, but I can also tell you what type -- full circles or half moons. For years, the plan has always been to get mine done at some stage, when I had the money.

I suppose I grew up in a generation for which cosmetic surgery was a viable option if you didn't like something about yourself. TV shows like The Swan skim over the painful recoveries while showing us the extreme 'before and after'.

Varied considerations down the years, as well as money, prevented me from going ahead, but I think I would have eventually silenced the fear -- and taken the step into an existence where the mortifying possibility of kicking one's escaped 'cleavage' around a dance floor would be just a distant memory.

But the recent PIP faulty breast implant scandal has firmly changed my mind.

The point is, I hadn't really thought the boob job through before now. The fact that a silicone sack would be inserted under my skin and that this silicone sack would need replacing or the possibility of a fixer-upper in a few years' time, that the surgery could go wrong, that the implants could burst, or that the tiny possibility of me dying under general anaesthetic would result in a funeral during which the entire topic of conversation would be my silly, vain whim.

Reality dawned on hearing the horrific story of the 1,500-plus women in Ireland, and 400,000 internationally, that were fitted with unsafe silicone implants containing unauthorised industrial grade silicone that was never tested for human use.

Perhaps, just like Jamie Oliver teaching me the benefit of free-range chicken, I needed to hear about faulty implants that can burst and split under the skin to put me straight on that issue too.

I can credit two words in particular from recent news coverage for my drastic U-turn -- 'lumpy', and 'granular'.

Of course, I realise that not all breast surgery goes wrong and that most implants are quite safe.

Indeed, there will be many women reading this newspaper whose lives have been enriched by the feeling that extra confidence boost must give, but personally, even the basic facts of a healthy, successful boob job are now enough to put me off.

Much has been written about breast augmentation in the last number of weeks. Many people are unsympathetic to the women involved, which is wrong.

Yes, there is a certain amount of vanity involved in the desire to go under the knife for no health-related issue, but in today's society where the blood and guts element of cosmetic surgery goes largely unnoticed, can you really blame us?

I'm just glad I never had the chance to go ahead with it.

So what is to become of my little cups and magical boob job fund? We're waiting until some intelligent person figures out how to non-surgically, maybe even genetically modify me into someone more boobular, without the aid of any foreign bodies.

If it works out I just might be the only busty 80-year-old on the block -- but for now I'm embracing my B-stings.

Sunday Independent