01 June 2005

Psychological dangers of breast surgery

Is breast surgery the answer to emotional- or relationship problems? Health24 gives an overview of research findings.

A study reported in the British Medical Journal in 2003 found that women who had received breast augmentation implants were more likely to commit suicide than others.

Wise shrinks had long warned plastic surgeons that because significant psychological distress was often present in people seeking plastic surgery, a wise surgeon should get a proper psychiatric/psychological assessment before picking up the scalpel. Also, people with unrecognised depression, who may pin their hopes unrealistically on the results of such surgery, may be bitterly disappointed when the results fail to transform their lives, as expected. They may be at increased risk of suicide.

Researchers followed over 3 500 women aged 15 to 69 who had received breast implants, for 11 years. For such a group, the average usual expectation would be 54 to die of natural causes, and five of suicide. Instead, they found 89 died, 15 of them by suicide.

Understandably, plastic surgeons were angered by such reports, and quoted studies they preferred, showing more than 90 % of women claiming to be "satisfied" after such procedures - at least that's what they told their doctors and researchers.


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