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Does breast augmentation confer risk of or protection from suicide?

published in the Aesthetic surgery Journal September/October 2003 • Volume 23 • Number 5

Thomas E. Joiner Jr, PhD

Recent studies have suggested that suicide rates in breast augmentation patients are higher than those in the general population of women.

The author sought to establish the expected rate of suicide in breast augmentation patients and to compare the expected and actual rates.

The literature was reviewed to characterize the demographic, behavioral, and other qualities of the prototypical breast augmentation patient compared with those in the general population of women. By and large, presurgery characteristics of breast augmentation patients are similar to those of other women, but some relatively small demographic, behavioral, and other differences between these patients and other women were identified. These were used to develop a formal estimate of the expected rate of suicide among breast augmentation patients, which was then compared with established estimates of its actual rate.

On the basis of demographic and other presurgery factors, the expected suicide rate among breast augmentation patients could be as high as 4 times the rate among the general population of women. Estimates of its actual rate are lower.

Suicide rates among breast augmentation patients appear to be lower than the expected rate when these patients’ demographic and other pre-surgery characteristics are taken into account. The most plausible mechanism for this protective effect is increased satisfaction with body image.

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Dr. Max Gouverne

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Dr. Max Gouverne, MD
Cosmetic Surgery

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