Pain in the pursuit of beauty: One in eight suffer chronic pain after cosmetic surgery, study finds

March 12, 2024

Ten percent of respondents to a recent survey of Norwegian adults said that they had undergone cosmetic surgery—with one in eight of them experiencing chronic post-operative pain, defined as persistent pain that lasts longer than three months; according to results published in De Gruyter’s Scandinavian Journal of Pain, reports EurekAlert.

The study is the first to examine the prevalence of cosmetic surgery among Norwegian adults since 2008. It is also the first to examine post-operative pain in adults undergoing various cosmetic surgery procedures.

Cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly common worldwide, but the prevalence of complications after cosmetic procedures, such as chronic post-operative pain, is not well understood.

Researchers, led by Silje Endresen Reme of the University of Oslo, conducted a short survey of 1,746 Norwegian adults—asking respondents whether they had undergone a cosmetic surgical procedure; if they had experienced chronic post-operative pain; and if they had sought treatment for this pain.

Of the 10% who said they had undergone cosmetic surgery, 25% were ages 18-29 and 75% were female.

The researchers found that chronic post-operative pain was approximately five times more common in males than females. Two-thirds of those experiencing pain were aged 18-29, while those in other age groups experienced much less. Three out of four people who experienced pain sought treatment, suggesting that its effects were debilitating and bothersome.

While cosmetic surgeries are typically available from private clinics, those who experience post-operative pain are more likely to need care from public health systems, may not be able to work, and can experience decreased quality of life.

“Considering the increasing acceptance and popularity of cosmetic surgery, it is vital for patients to be well-informed about potential complications,” said Sophia Engel, lead author on the study. “Additionally, the public should be aware of the impact that chronic pain after cosmetic surgery has on the healthcare and social welfare system.”

Research contact: @EurekAlert