Venezuela Endures Breast Implant Shortage.

The socialist economic policies that dominate the governing of Venezuela have produced some pretty unusual shortages for its citizens of late. These include rice, coffee, toilet paper and, most recently and extraordinarily, breast implants.

The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery ranks Venezuela as the fifth-highest of the world’s countries (after the US, Brazil, Mexico and Germany) in breast implant procedures.

Indeed, Venezuela’s population of a little more than 30 million invested in about 85,000 breast augmentations last year. That’s according to figures published by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. This is a higher rate of purchase than Americans indulged. But it’s revealed to be an even more astonishing statistic when you consider that the median weekly salary in Venezuela is $102 and $786 in the States.

Clearly, breast implants are a priority of some measure for women living in this South American nation.

Which makes the recent news that Venezuelan doctors are struggling to obtain safe breast implants the greater tragedy.

Observers cite government-imposed controls that have restricted the conversion of the local currency, the Venezuelan Bolivar, into other foreign currencies as the principal reason for the scarcity. Longtime president Hugo Chavez and his political heir, current President Nicolas Maduro, have enacted this restrictive policy in a bid to keep capital from leaving their government. But the fallout from this move is that local businesses have had their hands tied when it comes to importing certain foreign goods.

In turn, Venezuela’s beauty-obsessed nationals are suffering for this politically minded sanction in the most personal of ways. In the absence of FDA-approved, brand-name breast implants, would-be breast-enhancement patients are having to resort to more dubious alternatives that may be the wrong size or that were manufactured without the same attention to quality, often hailing from China.

Some women are also said to have been trolling the Venezuelan version of Craigslist in pursuit of black market versions of breast implants. These privately peddled products are, presumably, unused.

By Ann Kaplan

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