The implants put into Elise's body were filled with saline and turned her A-cup breasts into full B's. (Saline is what all new cosmetic breast implants are filled with since 1992, when the Food and Drug Administration banned silicone gel-filled ones for most cosmetic uses based on reports that silicone gel could cause serious diseases if it leaked into the body.)
Having given long, serious consideration to whether she should get implants, Elise's fellow hair stylist and friend Claire Simmons (not her real name) went to the doctor with Elise and had the operation, too.
"I always wished I could have more," says the 32-year-old woman, petite at 5 feet 2 inches and 110 pounds. "But I thought 'no way.' I was afraid and was worried about what others would think. Then I got to an age where I was secure enough to do it, after considering the good and the bad."
The up side of upgrading from her nature-made A cup to a small B was the prospect of easily fitting into bras and bathing suits. "Before, bathing suit tops were empty, and even an A bra was too big. There would be just one pretty bra that fit, and I would have to stock up because I was afraid they would discontinue it."
The risks? Rupture, hardening, shifting in position, pain, numbness in the nipple or breast tissue, or infection. Breast implants can also interfere with breast-feeding and breast cancer detection through mammograms. Scars fade over time, while never disappearing entirely.
Claire says she has none of the bothersome side effects and is content with her new B breasts. "It didn't change my life, but it made shopping more fun. I can wear strapless dresses now." For Elise's part, she says, "I'm happy, but I feel a lot of wrinkles. I guess it's difficult to make them perfect."
It's those who expect perfect results, and a life changed by aesthetic operations, who tend to be dissatisfied with the results of their plastic surgery, Gerber says. Liposuction, breast implants, or other contouring procedures might not turn you into a statuesque supermodel like Cindy Crawford or Naomi Campbell. But cosmetic surgery does hold the promise of creating a shapelier you.