Summary: Late this summer, celebrity-in-training Jasmine Tridevil made her grand debut: showing her “surgically constructed” third breast. This is an important case for plastic surgeons across the country to take on and expose as the hoax it is. The fact of the matter is that Tridevil’s surgery would have been ethically dubious and technically challenging, and there’s absolutely no evidence that it actually happened. It’s important to note, though, the good for real women that real plastic and cosmetic surgery does.
It’s a Hoax
All right, we can’t really go any further without commenting on this. The woman with the third breast—it’s a hoax. Since August or September of 2014, Jasmine Tridevil has posted pictures of herself with a third breast, which she says she paid a plastic surgeon $20,000 to implant. Her claim is that she did so for a two-fold reason: first, to avoid the attention of men and, second, to gain fame and notoriety. Whether hoax or not, Tridevil has at least succeeded in garnering fifteen minutes of the latter.
The purpose of this article is not to give Tridevil more of what she wants—though it’s likely that ship has sailed. Rather, the fact that Tridevil’s story roared through the internet without much question from mainstream media—unless you count Snopes as mainstream media—says something about perceptions of plastic surgery and the surgeons who perform those procedures. So let’s be clear about this point: performing a procedure to give a woman a third breast in the fashion Tridevil suggests would violate all kinds of ethical standards, and just as any practicing medical professional, plastic surgeons are bound by those ethical standards.
And this says nothing of the technical difficulties involved in such a procedure. As the media wised up and started speaking to various plastic surgeons, it became clear that Tridevil’s added breast would be no small challenge. According to one surgeon interviewed, the entire process would likely take close to a year, including various stages of tissue grafting and recovery. In other words, this procedure would have been a big deal (and it’s easy to see where that supposed $20,000 price tag comes into it all), but there’s no evidence to suggest Tridevil has been through anything like that recovery period.
Indeed, even with a normal procedure, according to the website of the Minneapolis breast augmentation specialists at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, full recovery for a normal breast augmentation or reconstruction can take months.
The Real You
It seems like one of the things Tridevil is attempting to do is subvert the notion that plastic surgery can bring out the “real you.” Worth pointing out is that Tridevil has made no claims about feeling more like herself with a third breast, rather, she has all kinds of other motives. But all of this attention takes away from the fact that many women undergo breast augmentation procedures and record a stunning increase in their quality of life. The procedure is widely viewed as “worth it” on plastic surgery social media site, RealSelf, and there’s plenty of statistical evidence to support this notion.
Legitimizing Plastic Surgery
And while Tridevil’s antics don’t necessarily take away the happiness of these women, we have to be careful that her behavior does not begin to stigmatize the behavior of those women who do seek out plastic surgery. This is especially true because plastic surgery, as a profession, has worked very hard to become more accepted in the mainstream, with a good amount of success.
All of that hard work won’t be undone by one woman—that’s for sure. But it’s worth keeping in mind the overall health of the industry when we examine her place in it, hoax or not. The thing that Tridevil showed us a couple of things: the professionalism of the plastic surgery community and the willingness of the general public to believe otherwise. The real victim here isn’t so much the plastic surgeons, but the scores of men and women who have elected to undergo cosmetic procedures for the betterment of their quality of life.
A Healing Touch
And this doesn’t even touch on the damage she might do to reconstructive breast surgery, one of the techniques Tridevil claims to have encouraged a surgeon to use in constructing her third breast. Generally reserved for women who have had a mastectomy or endured other breast trauma, breast reconstruction is an important step in the recovery process, finally allowing some women to completely reclaim their lives and their health. It’s an important, more than symbolic, step in the healing process.
It’s important to keep all of this in mind, in spite of the attention garnered by Tridevil. Her third breast is a hoax, but the good work done by plastic surgeons on other women is very real, and it has an important impact on their health and quality of life.