What’s taking shape? Implants

Article Published By: The Orange County Register

November 29, 1989

Introduction: It wiggles like Jell-O and adds cush to the flattest tush. Just in time for the wider-body ‘90s the buttock implants has arrived. For a mere $4,000 a fanny, plastic surgeon will put the bilk back – much faster than it took to take it off.

Skinny legs can be fattened, too. For another $4,000, doctors will add shape to calf muscles.

“And shape is big, “said Newport Beach plastic surgeon Nikolas Chugay, who recently began offering buttock and calf implants. But detractors say the surgery is just another fashion trend – at the expense of self-esteem.

Mainly women’s self-esteem. It was only a matter of time before surgeons and their ever-eager patients would find new places to tuck plastic.

First came breast implants. Then stronger chins. Then cheek implants became the rage, creating a population of hollowed-out faces evocative of Van Gogh’s “The Scream.”

In calf implants surgery, the doctor inserts a custom-made slab of firm surfboard shaped plastic under the fascia – the muscle lining- to give the illusion of curvy calves. The milky white plastic piece, made from a silicon polymer, weighs less than a pound. Buttock implants, also known as gluteal implants, look like a mini-flotation device: clear round plastic bubbles filled with silicone gel and inserted in pockets in the derriere.

Implants – especially breast implants – are particularly desirable in Orange County, Chugay said. Nationally, demand for breast augmentation increased 11.5 percent in the last year, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, based in Newport Beach. Chugay speculates that the trend is driven by year-around beach fashion.

“Orange County women are going to be great on buttock and calf implants because they’ve always been big on breasts,” he said. Breast implants are twice as popular in his Orange County practice as in his Beverly Hills office, he said.

The increase in breast augmentation is directly a result of the fashion industry’s promotion of the fuller figure, spokeswoman Kimberly Davey said. No figures are available on calves and buttocks because the surgery is so new.

Until this year, Ida Rondon, 37 of Garden Grove rarely took her spindly legs out in public unless she covered them with boots or long pants.

A travel agent, she scrimped and saved to get cash for the calf implants surgery with Chugay.

“Now I wear miniskirts,” she said. Divorced, she said her ex-husband has proposed that they get married again, in part because he likes her legs.

“He looks at me totally different, now that I have legs,” she said. “My mother, she’s 79 and she said: ‘You don’t need to do that. Men should like you the away you are.’ But if you can do something that makes you happy, why not?”*


But counsellors warn that the surgery could do more than harm the\an good to a person’s self-concept.

“I know of women who had breast implants years ago. They had them removed five years ago when a smaller bosom became the fashion. Now larger bosoms are in fashion, and the women are having implants put back in,” said Barbara Denny, a Tustin licensed counselor and social worker who specializes in self-esteem and relationship counselling for women.

“Men are asking their women to have implants. The women are doing it to satisfy the men and losing their sense of self.”

Newport Beach psychologist Christine Padesky, who serves a director of the Center for Cognitive Therapy, said implants can be good because they make people feel good about themselves.

“But some people are getting plastic surgery to go along with the current fashion,” she said, ” and that can go along with bad self-esteem.”

It’s not solely women in pursuit of the golden calf. In fact, men started the trend in implant surgery.

Beverly Hills surgeon Dr. Adrien Aiache imported the technique from builder Gary Gordon, 42 a jeweller in Oklahoma City who go this calves implanted four years ago by Aiache. “But if you want to look sexier, why not?”

For years before his calf implant surgery, Gordon said he performed heavy workouts with weights to shape to his calves.

“I did seated calf raises. Standing calf raises. Calf scratches, all the classic exercises,” he said. “All my life I had a good body, but never was able to build my calves. I think it was genetically predisposed.”

Gordon said he knows of several top male US body builders who got calf implants. He said his recovery time was quick – within a few weeks – and he hasn’t had complications.

But Dr. Fredrick M. Grazer, a Newport Beach plastic surgeon who has written a book about body contouring, is reluctant to offer the new implants.

“I had polio, so one leg is skinnier than the other, and I would not consider calf implants for myself,” he said. “The farther away you get (in surgery) from the heart, the greater potential complications for circulation Cross your legs. See the first thing that happens? You bounce across the calf area.”

He said the buttock and calves, unlike the face and breast, are subject to constant physical trauma, and the new implants could pop out.

“One little break in the skin, and it’s sayonara for the implant,” he said.

“Nonsense,” Aiache said. :Displacement? Nonsense. Circulation? Nonsense.”

There’s also a small danger that the buttock implants can deflate if poked by a sharp object, Chugay said.

Aiache has seen an increasing demand this year for his calf implants. But he no longer performs buttock implants.

“I got an office full of female impersonators who wanted buttock implants, Southern Californians crave a “unisex three-quarter flat buttock look,” he said.

Chugay in Newport Beach disagrees, predicting a big market for plastic keisters.

“It’s just like women who are flat-chested,” Chugay said. ” Flat buttock give women an inferiority complex.”

If the horror of the buttock implants goes pop-a-pop-pop at an important cocktail party, Chugay aid it will deflate slowly, allowing its wearer time to get home to salvage her dignity.

“But the moral of the story.’Chugay said, “is don’t sit on any ice picks.”