Women undergoing breast augmentation surgery report substantial improvement in several key areas of quality of life, reports a study in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
“Cosmetic breast augmentation can have a significant and profound positive impact on a woman’s satisfaction with her breasts [and] her psychosocial and sexual well-being,” according to the report by ASPS Member Surgeon Colleen M. McCarthy, MD of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and coauthors.
Questionnaire Shows Benefits After Breast Augmentation
The researchers developed and evaluated a questionnaire to evaluate changes in health-related quality of life after cosmetic breast augmentation. Quality of life is increasingly regarded as an important factor in evaluating the benefits of many types of medical or surgical treatments.
The BREAST-Q© questionnaire evaluated changes in six areas: satisfaction with breasts and with overall outcome, psychosocial, sexual, and physical well-being, and satisfaction with care. Forty-one women completed the questionnaire six months before and after undergoing cosmetic breast augmentation surgery with implants.
The group results showed significant improvement in three out of the six areas. On a 0-to-100 scale, average scores increased from 27 to 70 for satisfaction with breasts, from 45 to 78 for psychosocial well-being, and from 35 to 72 for sexual well-being.
More than 80 percent of women reported “significant improvement” in satisfaction in these three areas. The gains in quality of life were considered very large-similar in magnitude to the improvement in symptoms after hip replacement surgery.
Breast augmentation is the most common cosmetic surgical procedure performed in the United States. According to ASPS statistics, more than 300,000 women underwent cosmetic breast augmentation in 2011. Dissatisfaction with breast size or shape can negatively affect a woman’s quality of life in several ways, including self-perceived attractiveness and sexuality.
In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has urged ongoing follow-up of women receiving breast implants to document not only the safety but also the effectiveness of breast augmentation. Dr. McCarthy and colleagues write, “This means that, more than ever before, it is vital to provide reliable and valid evidence regarding patient outcomes of breast augmentation, especially…health-related quality of life and patient satisfaction.”
The new study shows that implant-based breast augmentation can significantly improve a woman’s quality of life in several key areas. It also demonstrates the ability of the BREAST-Q to “capture the impact of surgery from a patient perspective.”
The researchers believe their findings are directly relevant to plastic surgeons working with individual patients. The BREAST-Q can provide “tangible evidence” of patient satisfaction, improve communication, and help in establishing the expected results of cosmetic breast augmentation. Using the BREAST-Q in future studies and clinical practice will also be useful in providing “benchmarks” for patient satisfaction and quality of life-especially psychological outcomes.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, part of Wolters Kluwer Health.