Over the course of the next few weeks, hundreds of women will open one special present to reveal a big new pair of bright, shiny boobs.
Not the boobs themselves, but maybe a gift certificate: “This entitles the bearer to a new set of breasts.” Though hardly one of Santa’s mainstays—toy wagon, train set, large boobs—doctors say breast jobs are growing in popularity as presents.
Dr. Nazih Haddad, medical director of the Newport Center for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Laser, says one-third of all his office’s breast-enhancement surgeries are gifts—about 150 jobs per year. And in those cases, Haddad says, the gifted surgeries are most often from a mother to her daughter.
“Usually the mother will become interested after the daughter gets the surgery, or vice versa,” said Haddad. (In the interests of full disclosure, his medical center advertises in the Weekly.) “Many times the mother expects her daughter to pay her back. But when a man pays for his girlfriend to have the surgery, it’s usually for his own sake. He expects to retrieve some benefits.”
Two benefits, actually. And they’re expensive. In Newport Beach, breast jobs typically run between $4,500 and $6,500. As a favor to his staff, Haddad gives the surgery as a gift to any female employee who has worked for him for a year.
Of course, this isn’t the gift for every woman. It’s also a bit riskier than, say, a new dress. Haddad’s office outlines the potential complications of breast jobs: infection, degradation of a woman’s ability to produce breast milk, possible leakage of silicone from the implant shell into breast milk, increased health-insurance premiums and more difficult routine mammography.
And then there’s this little note: “Women should understand there is a high chance they will need to have additional surgery at some point to replace or remove the implant.”
To find out more, we talked with one mother and her 19-year-old daughter about what it was like to give and receive the gift of new, larger breasts.
OC Weekly: So what exactly was the present?
Daughter: I got round saline implants. I went from an A cup to a C.
And what was the occasion?
Mother: There actually wasn’t any special occasion. When I had my surgery done, that’s when she told me she wanted it done, too. Since I work at a surgery center, I was able to get it done for a discount.
Why this particular present?
Mother: Even when my daughter was young, I knew she wasn’t going to develop. I was always shy, but I couldn’t afford the surgery for myself until just a couple of years ago. I know what it feels like, at 18, 19 years old, to be flat-chested, especially in California. My daughter is very pretty—Dr. Haddad would tell her, “You’re so pretty, you don’t need to get this done.” But guys don’t understand. Women wear really tight clothes these days. But we’re not out to turn heads—it was all for our own confidence. It made me feel real good to do it for her, to help her out.
Now let me ask your daughter: you were 18 and still in high school when you went under the knife. Why did you want your mom to give you this?
Daughter: I got the surgery because I’ve always been way smaller than all my friends. I was really flat, and my mom told me I probably wouldn’t grow any more because she was flat. She felt bad for me. After she got the surgery, that’s when I got really determined.
How did you feel when you—how should I put it—opened your present?
Daughter: Actually, I got my surgery right after she did. She told me I could get it done soon. I asked her when was the soonest I could get it done. She said that there were openings tomorrow. That blew me away because I was going to Cancun that summer, and I wanted to wear a really good bathing suit.
What was it like getting this gift?
Daughter: The recovery was horrible at first. When my mom had it done, she didn’t seem to be so bad. It was some of the worst pain I’ve ever had. I was barely an A cup, which is one reason recovery hurt so much—there was so little breast tissue to work with. Plus, the painkillers made me sick; I think it was some kind of allergic reaction. That wasn’t good, especially when you’re supposed to be relaxing, lying down, but you’re constantly jumping up and going to the bathroom to throw up.
How did life change after that?
Daughter: Well, when I got to Cancun the summer after high school, I felt so much more outgoing than I used to. I felt so much better about myself. Before, I never wanted to be in a bathing suit. Now I’m really happy with myself.
Mother: Oh, she is very confident now. When she went to the prom right after her surgery, she wore a low-cut dress for the first time. She was a big topic of conversation there. In fact, I wish I could have had the surgery when I was 18. My life would have changed completely. I was almost 50 when I had the surgery, but why should she have to wait so long?
So you’re happy with your new present?
Daughter: People can’t even tell I’ve had surgery. When I was in school, I always told everyone I was going to get a boob job. They never really believed me—they’d be, like, “Yeah, yeah, whatever.” When I actually got it done, they were shocked. But now that I’m out of high school, I have new friends who never knew I got breast implants. I figured they could tell and already knew, but they didn’t. I was talking to a friend of mine recently because she was considering getting the surgery. I told her it really hurt, but if you don’t have confidence in yourself, you should definitely get it done. She was shocked and told me, “I didn’t know you had implants—I just thought you had big boobs!”
How does this rank with other gifts you’ve gotten from your mom?
Daughter: It is definitely tops.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.