College Age Female Wearing Black Tank and White Headband SmilingStudents at Washington State University are getting a lot more than pizza coupons in the latest “Student Survival Guide” to come their way. Amid the colorful advertisements meant to lure students — and their limited funds — to sandwich shops and par-3 golf courses, is a coupon for a sizable discount on breast augmentation. The thought that college-aged girls might be interested in increasing more than their GPAs has generated several conversations and a lot of media attention around the U.S. I thought it would be a good topic to share with my Riverside-area plastic surgery patients.

Some critics have decried the inclusion of the coupon in the so-called “Survival Guide,” arguing against the implication that a young woman needs breast augmentation to survive college. Indeed, most good plastic surgeons are quick to point out that prospective patients should consider cosmetic surgery of any kind only to improve their own self-image, rather to conform to societal ideals or pressures.

Some responded to the news with simple incredulity that breast augmentation is what strapped-for-cash college students would spend their money on, even with a coupon, while they simultaneously rack up student loans. It’s true that the procedure can put a dent in the wallet, and cost should be a consideration and a topic of discussion between any patient and her surgeon.

Others say that the advertisement represents a shift in cultural attitudes toward plastic surgery. More people than ever support a woman’s choice to get breast implants, or otherwise make aesthetic improvements to her body. Gone are the days when plastic surgery was considered a taboo topic. The coupon may just be a sign of the times.

Women in college are adults, old enough to decide whether breast augmentation is right for them. The real conversation should be about informing them that the best way to choose the right plastic surgeon isn’t about who is offering the best coupon. They should select a surgeon based on qualifications, experience, and board certification. A good surgeon can also help a young woman by exploring her goals and motivations, managing her expectations, and determining if — and when — surgery is the right path.

Read more about the coupon on The Spokesman-Review newspaper website, then leave a comment here to tell us what you think.