Survey of breast implant patients: characteristics, depression rate, and quality of life

Aesthet Surg J. 2013 Feb;33(2):252-7. doi: 10.1177/1090820X12473106. Epub 2013 Jan 16.


Background: Quality of life (QOL) among breast augmentation patients is a growing research area, with newly worrisome data on psychological health in this group.

Objectives: The authors investigate characteristics of breast implant patients, including motivations for surgery, depression rate, effect of surgery on daily activity and work activity, and overall psychosocial and cosmetic changes through a self-reported survey.

Methods: Of 121 consecutive breast augmentation patients treated by the senior author (AK) between 2005 and 2008, a total of 93 patients were reachable via e-mail and were sent a 47-question survey, which they could return anonymously. Answers were processed by QuestBack mail system (QuestBack AS, Oslo, Norway) and sent to the authors as diagrams and figures, rather than as raw data.

Results: The response rate for this survey was 67%. Average follow-up was 2.8 years. For 65%, the motivation for surgery was cosmetic; 48% replied it was for emotional reasons (reduced self-esteem), 22% for intimate reasons, and 10% for physical reasons. Before the operation, 6% of respondents reported diagnosed depression. The postoperative changes were equal between improved and worsened depression. In 27%, the operation increased motivation for daily activities; 73% felt like a "whole" person, and 26% experienced improvement in social skills. In terms of the cosmetic result, 93% were satisfied or very satisfied. However, 27% indicated they were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with skin sensation.

Conclusions: Although in some cases depression increased postoperatively, the depression rate in our study was still lower than the published range in the general population in Norway. Breast enlargement increased motivation to perform daily activities in our patients. The procedure improved QOL in both psychosocial and cosmetic aspects. However, the relatively high percentage of patients who experienced reduced breast skin sensitivity postoperatively can represent a challenge for the surgeon. Multicenter/clinic studies are necessary to form a better idea about the implications of the depression rate postoperatively.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adult
  • Breast Implantation / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Norway
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult