Pain in the Pursuit of Beauty: 1 in 8 Suffer Chronic Pain After Cosmetic Surgery, Study Finds

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Ten per cent of respondents to a recent survey of Norwegian adults had undergone cosmetic surgery, with one in eight of these experiencing chronic post-operative pain, according to results published in De Gruyter’s Scandinavian Journal of Pain. 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.

Ten per cent of respondents said they had undergone cosmetic surgery, highlighting the increasing popularity of such procedures. Of these, one in four was aged 18-29 and three in four were female.

One in eight reported experiencing chronic post-operative pain, defined as persistent pain that lasts longer than three months. 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.”


Scandinavian Journal of Pain

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Subject of Research


Article Title

Cosmetic surgery and associated chronic postsurgical pain: A cross-sectional study from Norway

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COI Statement

Silje E. Reme is a Section Editor of Scandinavian Journal of Pain. The author(s) declare to have no conflicts of interest.

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