Psychological considerations in cosmetic breast augmentation

Canice E Crerand, Alison L Infield, David B Sarwer
Plastic Surgical Nursing 2007, 27 (3): 146-54
Within the past decade, the popularity of cosmetic breast augmentation has surged and, with it, the interest in the psychological aspects of the procedure. Investigations of women who seek cosmetic breast augmentation have examined both their psychosocial characteristics and their motivations for surgery. Dissatisfaction both with body image and with breast size and/or shape are thought to be primary motivators for surgery. It is common for women seeking cosmetic breast augmentation to have some body image dissatisfaction. However, a considerable minority may suffer from excessive dissatisfaction consistent with the psychiatric diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder, which is believed to contraindicate cosmetic surgery. Following breast augmentation, most women report satisfaction with the aesthetic result and improvements in body image. The impact of the procedure on other areas of functioning, such as self-esteem and quality of life, is less clear. These positive outcomes have been tempered by recent epidemiological studies that have identified a relationship between cosmetic breast implants and suicide. This article reviews this literature and provides recommendations to plastic surgical nurses regarding the psychological assessment and management of patients seeking breast augmentation.

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