Disturbing Motivations for Breast Cancer Fraud

We’ve recently celebrated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, if you’re like me, you’ve spent some time reflecting on the ways that breast cancer has affected your life and the lives of those you love. Here’s something new to reflect upon, something just as troubling as the many lives lost to the disease: news of a woman in Texas who claimed to have breast cancer even though she did not, raised money through donations, and then used the money to pay for breast enhancement surgery. As a Tampa, Florida plastic surgeon, I see many women who would like to improve their appearance with breast enhancement, but would certainly never commit fraud to make that goal a reality.

Why She Did It

According to an article from MSNBC, 24-year-old Trista Joy Lathern cited some disturbing motivations for her actions. Apparently, she was having marital problems and thought that a breast cancer diagnosis could improve her relationship with her husband. Moreover, she believed that larger breasts would go even further toward strengthening their marriage and decided to use the fraudulently-raised money for implants.

What We Can Learn

This story provides an opportunity for plastic surgeons performing breast augmentation in Tampa and across the country to discuss what breast surgery can and cannot do. While it can improve your appearance and, for many women, improve self-confidence, breast augmentation is never going to fix a broken marriage.

I see how happy my breast enhancement patients feel when they speak with me after their surgery and I”ve heard the way that they describe their new sense of confidence. So, even though I cannot deny the power of physical improvement for emotional wellbeing, I want to emphasize that plastic surgery is not a Band-Aid and cannot fill the void of an unhappy life or unhappy marriage.

Now, at the same time, don”t be discouraged! I can vouch for the fact that most of the women I meet are pursuing cosmetic enhancement for all the right reasons. When this is the case, plastic surgery can be a positive and empowering experience.

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