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Girl grads get unique gift: breast implants
Updated: 2004-06-18 14:29

When 21-year-old Heather Panzer graduated summa cum laude from college, she didn't want a new wardrobe of business suits or a monogrammed leather briefcase. In fact, her "must-have" graduation gift had very little to do the with years of education she had just completed.

Heather Panzer says she does not regret getting breast implants as a graduation gift last year. [ABCnews.com]
Panzer really only wanted one thing from mom and dad for graduation: breast implants.

"I've been looking into it since the 10th grade and I was satisfied with every other area of my life and this was the only area that I couldn't change by physical fitness, by the gym, eating habits," Panzer said on ABC News' Good Morning America.

"I just figured that if it would make me feel good about myself, then might as well go for it," she said.

While Panzer's mother, Becky, says she realized there was some degree of risk involved in breast implant surgery, she said she still wanted to give her daughter the gift she had been hoping for.

'Life in general is a risk. You can back out your driveway and have somebody hit you and you're dead," said Becky Panzer. "So she really wanted this, she's a good girl, a hard worker and I felt that, you know, why not?"

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the risks of breast implants don't end with the initial surgery. Since implants do not tend to last a lifetime, follow-up surgeries are often required. Some breast implants can rupture or deflate within the first few months, according to the FDA. Others will deflate after several years and some will last 10 or more years before they rupture or deflate.

Meanwhile, Panzer's desire for breast implants isn't unique among young American women today.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says 3,841 18-year-old American women received augmentations in 2003, up from 3,095 in 2002.

Since 18-year-olds may not have the funds available to them for such a surgery, it's not unusual for them to seek help when it comes to paying the $6,000-plus procedure.

Panzer isn't the only young graduate to receive the unique gift of implants.

Aubrie Wills, 17, says she expects to get breast implants in August, before she goes to college.

Wills' mother, Renee Eden, says she wants pay for her daughter's surgery because she thinks it's a good way to boost her self-esteem.

"I thought about it for a long time and I think that, you know, it would boost her self-esteem," Eden said. "And I know that I've had a couple of things done and it's really helped me."

Both Wills and Panzer said their desire for implants has nothing to do with wanting attention from men. They said they wanted the surgery because they believed it would help them feel more confident.

Panzer, who had the surgery last year, says she has no regrets.

"It can have a tremendous impact and for me it has. I would do it again in a second," she said.

Wills says she is looking forward to undergoing her own procedure later this summer. The recent high school grad says she doesn't want the implants to make her look like someone else. She says she just hopes they'll help her feel better in her own skin.

"It's just something I've been uncomfortable with about my body and the only thing I wanted to get done," she said.  

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