A new study suggests many breast augmentation patients are undergoing elective plastic surgery without being fully informed about the procedure or possible complications.
Breast augmentation is big business in the United States. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons cites 300,378 procedures in 2017 alone. Yet many women are opting for the sometimes risky surgery by relying on online information and little understanding of whether the option is right for them.
Top Search Results Evaluated
A recent review published in the International Journal of Surgical Reconstruction evaluated the type of information provided to patients who chose to visit any of the first 200 sites returned by Google on a search for the term “breast enlargement.”
Not surprisingly in the internet age, many women use the internet and top-rated websites to learn about breast augmentation procedures, and compare costs associated with breast augmentation and other elective surgical services.
What Does that Mean for Users?
When reviewing these primary sources used by many women to shop for a surgeon, researchers from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) made note of the type of content most women rely upon to make what could be a life-altering decision. Some of their findings include:
- In a review of the top 200 website returns on Google, 74 percent were surgical providers while the remaining were surgical price comparison sites to help women shop around for services.
- Many of these sites offered basic information about the surgery, including incision sites, use of anesthetic, and information about types of breast implants.
- Researchers found that only 25 percent of the sites discussed surgical costs or that the implants were not a permanent solution, and only 20 percent revealed potential limitations of the surgery.
- Not surprisingly, the potential downsides to breast augmentation surgery were not often mentioned, and even less often discussed.
Informed consent is an important aspect of any procedure. As with most surgical interventions, there can be serious complications to breast augmentation including:
- Infection, implant rupture, and scar tissue build-up that squeezes the implant called capsular contracture
- Breast pain, changes or loss of sensation, breast atrophy, and calcification
- Extrusion, lymphoma, and disfigurement with or without removal
It is no surprise most websites fail to mention adverse outcomes related to breast implants. Notes Professor Pietro Ghezzi, RM Phillips Chair in Experimental Medicine at BSMS, “Incomplete information can be a cause for patients not being fully satisfied with the surgery, filing complaints or even resorting to litigation.”
When deciding on surgery, be sure to speak with your surgeon and ask about the risks before agreeing to any surgical procedure. Be careful about choosing a surgeon based on price—you may get what you pay for.
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