Sex and Breast Augmentation continued...
That's a very important point, agrees clinical psychologist David B. Sarwer, PhD, director of the weight and eating disorders program at the University of Pennsylvania. Sarwer has studied psychological issues surrounding breast augmentation surgery.
"Sure, body image is an important part of self-esteem," Sarwer tells WebMD. "But self-esteem is based on all sorts of things other than body image. It may be unrealistic to think that, just by having breast augmentation, a woman will improve her overall self-esteem."
Sarwer has found that women who seek cosmetic breast surgery have their own, personal motivations. They are not, as stereotype would have it, trying to please their husbands or boyfriends.
Sarwer says women considering breast implants should consider three things:
- A woman should make sure it is what she wants. She should not seek plastic surgery under pressure from someone else.
- "A breast implant is unlikely to change women's lives in any major way," Sarwer says. "They may get some positive attention, but they may also suffer negative attention. For everyone who says you look great, there may be whispers down the lane: 'She is too big, too showy.'"
- Some women seeking breast implants suffer from a serious psychological problem called body dysmorphic disorder: disproportionate concern over relatively minor physical imperfections. Both Sarwer and Figueroa-Haas warn that women must be evaluated for this condition before surgery.
And Sarwer warns that researchers are now becoming aware of a dark side to breast implants: suicide.
"What we think is going on here, although we are not sure, is these women have some pathology, perhaps clinical depression, prior to surgery," he says. "And when implants don't improve their depression, these women become suicidal. For women with profound underlying issues, there is something going on here that is potentially dangerous."