The Psychological Effects of Augmentation Mammoplasty in Middle-Aged Women

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Rebecca L. Kennedy

Psychology 191

Professor Moser

March 6, 2008

Studies are being conducted on whether or not women experience negative psychological effects after undergoing augmentation mammoplasty. Results from studies and research cited within the paper suggest that the effects of augmentation mammoplasty are not always beneficial to the patient. Further research is needed to establish the extent of negative psychological effects of augmentation mammoplasty so that patients can have detailed information to educate themselves with while they make the decision whether or not to undergo augmentation mammoplasty.

The Psychological Effects of
Augmentation Mammoplasty in Middle-Aged Women
Women rarely refer to the curves and natural imperfections of the female form as a work of art. “The female form is a combination of multiple attributes which cause many conflicting descriptions when taken as a whole” (“Female Body”, Wikipedia). Past research has demonstrated that women have had issues with their appearances since the late 1800’s. These issues affect women on a daily basis, physically and mentally. In a 1997 U.S. survey, 56 percent of women have some type of problem with their overall appearance (Castle, Honigman & Phillips, 2002). Many women believe that undergoing cosmetic procedures will help them with, or even solve the issues they have with their appearance. Although there are several cosmetic procedures available today, augmentation mammoplasty, commonly referred to as breast augmentation, is one option for women. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (“ASPS”) there were more than 329,000 augmentation mammoplasties performed in 2006 (“ASPS Studies”, 2008). Augmentation mammoplasty is the third most popular procedure in the United States for American Women today (R4MD, 2006). This procedure consists of inserting an implant under the breast or under the chest muscle, to allow the implant to expand and give the breast better contour and more cleavage. The first silicone implant was developed in 1961 by Houston, Texas plastic surgeons, Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow, and in 1962, Timmie Jean Lindsey, a 36-year-old mother of six, was the first woman to be implanted with silicone implants (“Breast Implants”, 2005-2006). There are many steps involved in the augmentation mammoplasty procedure. One of the more important steps will include choosing the right surgeon. The surgeon will need to be someone a woman feels comfortable talking to about her complaints, worries and expectations. The surgeon needs to be a member of the ASPS, which will ensure that he has trained for at least five years with two years in plastic surgery, experienced with many different procedures and adheres to a strict code of ethics. Being a member of the ASPS also ensures the surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (“ASPS/ASAPS”, 2008). Although choosing the correct physician to perform the procedure is important to obtaining the desired result, the psychology behind choosing to undergo the procedure is the primary concern a surgical candidate must address. Augmentation mammoplasty and psychology may appear to be unrelated; they are in fact interconnected in many ways. From the reasons behind wanting breast implants, to going through with the procedure, as well as the after effects of the procedure and how a woman handles it, psychology is a part of the whole process. There are many motivating psycho-emotional factors to explain why women get breast implants, some of which lead to positive psychological effects. Psychological motivators characterize these factors. Internal motivators like insecurity, poor body image and needing attention and external motivators like a flaw or abnormal condition (“Breast Implants”, 2007). It is extremely...
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