The dark side of plastic surgery: What three women wish they knew before breast implants.

Cosmetic surgery comes in all shapes and sizes and as with everything, there are many things to consider. I can’t stress enough that surgery of any sort is serious business. You only get one body and you should treat it with the utmost care.

While most people think of cosmetic surgery as being glamorous, there is a darker side to consider. I always recommend people do their homework and try to cover as many bases as possible.

But it’s impossible to know everything.

I started Trusted Surgeons out of frustration. Being a registered nurse, I want people to be making decisions around surgery from a place of understanding and knowledge. I want the public to have a voice, somewhere to speak out about the problems with in the industry. Trusted Surgeons is a not-for-profit educational platform that only promotes board certified plastic surgeons. Surgeons you can trust.

It’s baffling that the industry that requires the most trust seems to be the least transparent. Unfortunately, not all surgeons are upfront and honest about the risks of surgery or issues such as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) which has been associated with breast implants.

While discussion about cosmetic surgery is now free of the stigma it used to carry, there are still sides to plastic surgery we don’t talk about enough. There are many faces to the unexpected outcomes of having surgery.

After becoming so self-conscious that she didn’t even like her partner seeing her breasts, Taryn decided that she wanted to have a breast augmentation. She researched for eight months, asking people about their experiences in forums, meeting with surgeons. She lived and breathed the process.

Taryn had several consults and got quotes for surgery. With all the information, she believed she was making an informed decision and decided to go to Thailand. The lead up to the procedure – and the procedure itself – went without a hitch, but once the surgery was complete, Taryn noticed a shift, only seeing her surgeon once post-surgery in the seven days she was there. It was a five minute examination.


Despite the doctor hastily signing a ‘free to fly’ form, Taryn couldn’t help but feel everything was rushed after the procedure, and that her drains were removed too quickly.

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Speaking to many women post-surgery, Taryn has since found that cosmetic tourism companies are more interested in making a profit than providing women with a good experience. Taryn has struggled to communicate with her surgeon since the operation, and says her company ignored her emails until she gave up; not exactly the kind of customer service you want if you require immediate medical attention.

But Taryn’s main issue is that, despite doing her research and speaking to many people, she was unaware of ALCL and breast implant illness. In fact, despite her many meetings and appointments, not one surgeon mentioned it – including the tourism company she chose for her surgery. It wasn’t until Taryn was back in Australia that she found information about textured implants and the increased risks associated with them.

Taryn has recently joined a group with 30,000 members, all sharing their stories around this life changing illness. It has really made her think twice about her decision.

“Now I am discovering [that] maybe I have paid $5500 to have two ticking time bombs put inside me,” Taryn told me.

She feels that if she had known about breast implant illness and ALCL, then this would have had a massive impact on deciding to go ahead with surgery, especially being a young mum.


“This surgery was meant to improve my confidence and make me feel good about me, now I just feel this burning question… Have I made a terrible mistake?”

Breast augmentation
Cosmetic surgery is a major operation that should not be taken lightly. Image via Getty.

Taryn wants to let people know to not get caught up in all the hype and that even if you think you know everything, there is always more to learn. That not all issues are physical; which brings me to another woman I've come in contact with through Trusted Surgeons.

This patient again had always dreamed of having surgery and had been flat chested all her life. She saved her money and eventually had enough to get the surgery done. But immediately after having her breast augmentation, other issues arose. She noticed men looked at her differently, treated her differently. She constantly felt sexualised, like an object. She felt that people didn't take her seriously anymore.


In the end, it all became too much for the patient and she had them removed at further cost to herself. Now she has no implants and is out of pocket for both the initial surgery and the explant.

I have one final story which is common but rarely spoken about. If not for dealing with many women over such a great period, it’s not something that would have been clear to me either.

I have consoled many women that have been through a relationship breakdown as a result of breast augmentation surgery. Basically, because of having their new implants, these ladies often have a new-found confidence in themselves and generally acted accordingly, though this would cause tension with their partners through all the extra attention. In the stories I've been privy to, the resulting jealousy was too much and caused irreparable damage.

I've encountered men who complain that their partner has changed and that they don’t know them anymore. I've seen women crying post-op because of the near-immediate disintegration of their relationship.

While cosmetic surgery can be life changing for most, it can also negatively impact your life in ways you may not have thought about.

Do your homework, speak to as many people as you can. Learn all about the procedure you are looking for. Above all, always choose a surgeon you can trust.

Listen: This week on Mamamia Out Loud the team everything about workplace gifting, perfectionism and the modern dating scene. It's a doozy.