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Venezuela’s Chronic Shortages Hit Brand-Name Breast Implants

Venezuela's chronic shortages have begun to encroach on a cultural cornerstone: the boob job. Beauty-obsessed Venezuelans face a scarcity of brand-name breast implants, and women are so desperate that they and their doctors are turning to devices that are the wrong size or made in China, with less rigorous quality standards. Venezuelans once had easy access to implants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But doctors say they are now all-but impossible to find because restrictive currency controls have deprived local businesses of the cash to import foreign goods.

"The women are complaining," said Ramon Zapata, president of the Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Venezuelan women are very concerned with their self-esteem." Venezuela is thought to have one of the world's highest plastic surgery rates, and the breast implant is the seminal procedure. There are no official statistics on how many Venezuelans are walking around with enhanced busts. But a stroll down any Caracas street reveals that the augmentations are at least more conspicuous here than in other surgery-loving places. Even the mannequins look they've gone under the knife.

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- The Associated Press