Women who get cosmetic implants end up about three times more likely to commit suicide about 10 years after surgery, and more likely die from alcohol or drug dependence or abuse, according to a new Annals of Plastic Surgery study in which researchers followed 3,527 Swedish women with breast implants for an average of nearly 19 years, and examined rates and causes of death compared to what’s considered normal for that population.
They also found that cancer deaths among breast-implanted women were fairly normal, but the artificially endowed had a slightly higher risk of death from lung cancer and other chronic respiratory disease.
While researchers didn’t look into health risks and other issues involving implants (that’s a whole other can of worms), they’re now calling for surgeons to screen potential patients for suicide risk, and monitor them closely — particularly because the study found that the risk of suicide among the breast implantees increased about 10 years after surgery.
This doesn’t mean that elective breast augmentation messes up your mental health — it just sheds light on the fact that women who choose to change their bodies may be at higher risk for body image issues and the psychiatric problems that sometimes accompany low self-esteem in the first place.
It’s a sad reminder that a quick fix like surgery isn’t always a cure-all — particularly for problems that stem from the mind.