For women who have very large breasts, a breast reduction can quite literally feel like a weight has been lifted from them. Now a new study has shown that young women who undergo a breast reduction procedure before the age of 25 experience lasting benefits ten to even thirty years after their procedure.
Quality of life and breast reduction
For women with extremely large breasts, particularly if they have small frames, the physical burden can lead to neck, shoulder and back issues and can irritate the skin on the underside of the breasts and can even cause breathing issues in extreme cases. Normal day-to-day activities can be affected and an active lifestyle, particularly exercising, can be very challenging. This year’s Wimbledon winner, Simona Halep explained how the decision to undergo a breast reduction procedure at the age of 17 catapulted her to the top of women’s tennis.
Aesthetically, women with breasts that are out of proportion to their frame are often unhappy or self-conscious about the size, shape and even firmness of their breasts. They find they can’t wear certain clothes or have difficulty finding bras that fit.
In these cases, a breast reduction procedure can be a life-changing procedure, and this has been borne out by this latest research. In the November issue of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons journal, women recorded excellent long-term outcomes after breast reduction surgery. The women had all undergone breast reduction surgery before the age of 25 and were followed up on average for 21 years. They completed quality of life questionnaires and were found to have good scores for psychological and physical wellbeing compared to women who had not undergone breast surgery.
In the article, ‘Breast-Related Quality of Life in Young Reduction Mammaplasty Patients: A Long-Term Follow-Up Using the BREAST-Q’, the benefits persisted even through the women went through hormonal and physical changes to the breast, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause, which sheds an interesting light on the question of delaying a breast reduction procedure until later.
What is the best age for a breast reduction?
Despite the fact that the majority of women with overly-large breasts develop them during puberty, most women who undergo breast reduction surgery are much older. Yet it has been proven that having very large breasts can have a negative impact on self-esteem and body confidence during the teenage years.
In September, research was published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal that examined the risks and benefits of a mammaplasty in very young girls and found that any complications were relatively minor and were far outweighed by the benefits. One concern about performing a reduction mammaplasty in very young women is the risk of further breast growth after surgery that requires a second surgical procedure. The study followed 512 adolescent girls and young women, aged 12 to 21, who underwent breast reduction surgery between 2008 and 2017, and found that in about 5% of patients there was further breast growth. However, this was not age-related so every patient’s development and maturity must be assessed on an individual basis.
By Dr Alex Karidis
MD FRCS, is a highly respected and accredited cosmetic surgeon based in London who has written a guide on the benefits of breast reduction procedures.