Women also report improvements in self-esteem and quality of life after breast augmentation, according to the study by ASPS Member Surgeon Dr. Eric Swanson, a plastic surgeon in private practice in Leawood, Kan. The study adds high-quality information regarding expected outcomes after breast augmentation—including recovery time and psychological benefits.
98 Percent of Women Satisfied with Breast Augmentation Results
The survey study evaluated 225 consecutive women who returned for interviews at least one month after breast augmentation over a five-year period. Interviews included questions about the recovery, results, complications and psychological effects.
The average patient was 34 years old, and the majority of women received saline-filled breast implants placed under the muscle. The average implant volume was 390 cc.
On a 10-point scale, the women reported an average pain score during recovery of 5.9. On average, they used prescription pain medication for five days and were off work seven days. Patients felt they were "back to normal" about 25 days after surgery.
Eighty-five percent of women rated their new breast size "just right." Thirteen percent would have preferred a larger size and less than two percent a smaller size. Only one percent expressed dissatisfaction with their scars, which were usually located in the crease under the breast. Seventy-five percent of women rated their breast firmness "just right." When asked to rate the result, over half of the patients gave it a perfect 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Almost all patients (98 percent) reported that the results met or exceeded their expectations.
Increased Self-Esteem and Other Psychological Benefits
Nearly 40 percent of the women surveyed experienced at least temporary nipple numbness after surgery. Persistent numbness was reported by only two percent. The complication rate reported by patients was 10 percent. When asked about psychological effects, 92 percent of women reported improved self-esteem after breast augmentation and 64 percent reported an improved quality of life. Before surgery, the majority of women (86 percent) were self-conscious about their breasts. After surgery, only 13 percent were self-conscious about them.
Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the United States—approximately 286,000 operations were performed in 2012, according to ASPS statistics. The study results provide new information for women considering breast augmentation, particularly in terms of their expectations of the recovery and results. "This study is valuable in providing information from the patient's perspective, not the surgeon's," according to Dr. Swanson. "Patient satisfaction is the most important measure of surgical success."