According to the 2006 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgery, an estimated 329,000 individuals in the United States underwent breast augmentation. Breast augmentation remains the most popular cosmetic surgery in the United States in 2006. While some women receive psychological benefits from this procedure, a new study in the August issue of Annias of Plastic Surgery reveals that breast augmentation procedures increases the risk of suicide.
In the most recent study of its kind, Lipworth and his colleagues followed 3,500 Swedish women who had breast implant surgery from 1965 to 1993. The researchers examined death certificate information to gather information about the cause of death among the general Swedish female population and women who had breast augmentation surgery.
They found that there were no significant differences of cause of death up to 10 years after women received breast implant surgery. However, women who underwent breast implant procedures were three times more likely to commit suicide 10-20 years later than women who did not undergo this cosmetic surgery. Even more shocking, women who got their implants at age 45 or older were nearly seven more times likely to commit suicide than women who did not have implants.
Lipworth speculates about the reason why women with breast implants were significantly more likely to commit suicide only ten to twenty years after their surgery. He states that many of the women who underwent breast augmentation had prior psychological problems. He goes on to say that breast augmentation may have made women with mental illness feel better about themselves initially, ten to twenty years after their surgery, their psychological issues may have resurfaced, leading them to commit suicide.
The results of the study also showed that women with breast implants were three times more likely to have died from a psychiatric illness, such as alcohol or drug dependence.
Given that similar studies in Sweden, Finland, Canada, Denmark, and the United States showed similar results, physicians should be aware of a patient’s mental health history when he or she is screening a potential breast augmentation candidate. Women who want breast implants to feel better about themselves rather than to please their spouse are more likely to benefit from the surgery’s effects. Doctors should also ensure that a woman’s expectations of the surgery’s results are realistic.
While breast-enhancing surgery certainly has benefits for some women, for others it is damaging to their psychological well-being. The most recent study adds to the body of research that supports a physician’s need to carefully screen breast implant candidates before they undergo surgery.
For full study information, please visit the August issue of Annias of Plastic Surgery.