Study Shows Effects of Excessively Large Breasts On Teens

There is an interesting study recently published in Pediatrics regarding teens and breast reduction.   It appears that teens with excessively large breasts (macromastia) are more likely to suffer from self-esteem issues and eating disorders.  According to HealthDay News:

For the study, 96 girls between the ages of 12 and 21 were surveyed. They all were diagnosed with macromastia by a plastic surgeon at Children’s Hospital Boston, but had not had breast surgery. Also queried for comparison were 103 healthy girls in the same age range (the “control group”),  who were patients in other departments at the hospital, had no identified breast issues and no history of eating disorders or mental health issues.

The study participants answered questions about physical functioning and pain, general health, vitality, social functioning, self-esteem, mental health, body image and eating. They also responded to a questionnaire designed specifically for this research that asked about breast-specific issues, such as their cup size, whether they had concerns about their breasts, and if they had ever considered breast surgery.

The study suggests that macromastia has a substantial negative impact on health-related quality of life, self-esteem, physical symptoms and eating behaviors among adolescents, independent of a person’s weight or body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measurement that takes into account a person’s height and weight.

Notably, among those who were diagnosed with macromastia, there was triple the risk of eating disorders compared to the girls in the control group, even when age and BMI were taken into account.

Labow said the data support the value of allowing girls who seek breast-reduction surgery to get the procedure in adolescence, rather than making them wait until they are older. “They are suffering. If you wait about three years after menarche [when a girl’s menstrual periods start], the breasts may grow slightly but not enough to necessitate waiting longer,” he said.

I am typically pretty cautious when performing breast reduction on teenage girls.   The fact is, although their symptoms of back, neck, and shoulder pain improve after the surgery, they are left with extensive permanent scars and a possible inability to breast feed when they have children.  These are important consequences that these young patients must understand prior to undergoing the procedure.

However, if their symptoms are bad enough to warrant the surgery, these can be some of the happiest patients that plastic surgeons have.

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