Any woman who has decided to undergo breast augmentation should be aware of the possibility of experiencing some depression after the surgery. Although breast augmentation can be a simple outpatient procedure, the realities of both physical and emotional recovery apply to this procedure just as they would to other surgeries.
Patients undergoing any surgery are at risk for post-operative depression, and women undergoing breast augmentation may experience depression after their transformations. It is wise for women and their doctors to consider their current and past psychological state in preparation for breast augmentation.

Expectations And Realities Of Surgery

As with all elective surgeries, expectations may not completely align with reality. A recent study points to an increase in self-esteem and positive feelings about sexuality after breast augmentation, but only after the patient is fully recovered from surgery; a process requiring time and care.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons prepares patients for 24-48 hours of immediate recovery, followed by reduced activity for a week or so and soreness and swelling for a number of weeks beyond that. Between pain medications, effects of anesthesia and the purely painful reality of swelling and bruising, the weeks of recovery may bring cumbersome and frustrating feelings that must be dealt with before the benefits of breast augmentation can appear. Basic self-care, such as: remaining hydrated, eating well, and following medication guidelines, are essential to a positive recovery, both emotionally and physically. 

In addition, if a patient excpects her life to significantly change due to breast augmentation, she should be prepared for less than all-encompassing results. Life will change, and hopefully for the better, but breast augmentation is only one aspect of physical well-being and aesthetics. The initial excitement and hope that a person feels before surgery may not remain once her new body becomes just another aspect of daily life. Women should consider carefully the reasons they choose to have breast augmentation, and remember that the physical change is only a part of a healthy, well-rounded and fulfilling life.

Breast Augmentation And Suicide Rates

Although depression is a possibility for any patient after any surgery, there are no solid links between clinical depression and breast augmentation in the research. University of Pennsylvania’s 2007 review of the literature could not find sufficient evidence of a correlation to recommend a psychological evaluation for patients prior to breast augmentation. However, most researchers point to certain studies that have found higher rates of suicide in women who elect to have breast augmentation.

  • A 2007 study of Danish women who had undergone breast augmentation found that they were three times more likely to commit suicide
  • This finding was echoed in Swedish and Finnish studies
  • A U.S. study found that women who received breast implants as part of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy also had higher rates of suicide

The Danish study noted there was a much higher rate of prior mental illness among its participants; many were previously admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Currently, however, there are no studies distinguishing between the effect of previous mental health issues and the actual results of breast augmentation. Most studies recommend plastic surgeons remain considerate of patients' mental health when planning for changes in their physical health as well.

Recommendations For Breast Augmentation Patients

The reasons women choose breast augmentation surgery are as varied as the women themselves. However, whether  choosing breast augmentation for aesthetic reasons or as part of reconstruction after a mastectomy, all women should consider how their decision might affect their mental health.

As a practical matter, any woman undergoing breast augmentation should have a thorough discussion with her doctor regarding her motives for having the surgery, as well as her mental health history. Talking to a doctor about the realities of recovery, the changes (and lack of changes) to everyday life and the possibility of depression are all helpful precautions to take. A woman who considers these aspects of her emotional and psychological wellbeing will be well prepared for her physical metamorphosis.