Research at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) has found that websites by cosmetic surgery providers offer incomplete information to prospective patients.
A study performed by Laura Manley, a 4th year medical student, and Professor Pietro Ghezzi, RM Phillips Chair in Experimental Medicine at BSMS, investigated the first 200 websites returned by a Google search on breast enlargement. In total, 74% of the results were the websites of cosmetic surgery providers followed by price comparison websites (6%).
With many women under increasing pressure in regards to their body image, a growing number are choosing to undergo breast augmentation procedures. Figures from 2017 show that almost 300,000 and 28,000 surgeries were performed in the USA and in the UK respectively. Many women initially turn to the internet for information on the procedure, including the costs involved, possible side effects and which surgeon to use.
“This study found that cosmetic surgery providers’ websites failed to provide complete information,” Professor Ghezzi says. “They offered adequate information on the procedure itself, mentioning five aspects of it on average, such as the anesthetic used, the location of the incision and the type of implant. However, only a quarter of them reported the cost of the procedure or the fact that the procedure is not permanent. Only one in five disclosed the potential limitations of the final result of the implants.”
These websites were also poor in informing possible clients about the many potential complications of the procedure such as the risk of infections, ruptures and capsular contractures, with only one complication described on average. The complications least mentioned were the need for revision surgery or reoperation (one third of the websites analysed) or the risk of a particular type of lymphoma (one in 10 websites).
“Incomplete information can be a cause for patients not being fully satisfied with the surgery, filing complaints or even resorting to litigation,” Professor Ghezzi added. “The study highlights the need for plastic surgeons to develop guidelines for the information that is provided by websites on breast augmentation.”
The study is published by the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery here.