Women who are seeking breast augmentation on the NHS for mental health reasons may face a postcode lottery, a researcher has claimed.
While patients who want breast implants for cosmetic reasons are required to seek private treatment, some exceptional cases are eligible for treatment on the NHS if they are experiencing psychological distress because of the shape or size of their breasts.
However, Katie Trickey of Canterbury Christ Church University found that a lack of clear guidance and evidence on who will benefit from breast surgery in such circumstances is leaving many patients in the dark.
The researcher followed five women who were referred for NHS breast surgery but were not approved.
She revealed: "This study showed how these women were faced with a stressful journey because the criteria for breast augmentation on the NHS are not clear."
The expert concluded that more research should be carried out into the psychological benefits of breast augmentation "so that criteria for surgery can be developed and the quality of the service that these vulnerable patients receive be rationalised and improved".
What's better? Private or NHS healthcare?