It had to happen. The ease of comparison shopping on the Web has now extended to mammary modification surgery. This week, saggy-breasted women throughout South Africa placed their bids online, hoping to win a discounted operation that would help their bosoms defy gravity.
The private Park Lane Clinic in Johannesburg opened a week of cosmetic-surgery auctions Monday with an offer of breast reduction surgery. Prospective bidders were informed that the procedure "removes fat, glandular tissue and skin from the breasts, making them smaller, lighter and firmer. It can also reduce the size of the areola (the darker area of skin around the nipple). The aim is to give a woman smaller, better shaped breasts in proportion with the rest of her body."
The surgical procedure normally costs about 14,000 rand ($2,026), said Jack Shevel, chief executive officer of Netcare, South Africa's biggest private hospital group.
In addition to breast reduction, other procedures being offered include laser skin resurfacing, fat removal, facial hair removal and eyelid surgery. Throughout the week, interested parties can log onto the auction site and place bids for whichever operation they desire. The highest bidder wins the opportunity to go under the knife.
Bids were open-ended, starting at the bargain-basement rate of 1 rand (14 cents), and increasing in 50-rand increments. The lucky breast bidder, with the screen name "Missy-Taz-Bud," won the procedure with the winning price of 11,951 rand ($1,673). Smaller, better-shaped breasts are presumably in her immediate future.
So why would a hospital auction off cosmetic surgery?
"We are looking to attract uninsured patients," Shevel told news sources. "The target market for cosmetic surgery is the higher income bracket. We will see what they are prepared to pay."