Sometimes the success of surgical procedure is easy to judge; you take the diseased, infected tissue out and the patient gets better. At other times, the measurement of success for a surgical procedure is harder to determine such as with breast reduction procedures. There is no diseased or infected organ. There is no cancer that must be treated. Instead, the plastic surgeon is faced with the daunting task of trying to assess and determine the physical and psychological impairment the patient’s oversized breasts are causing her and compare this to numerous other possible sources for the patient’s complaints. Even after the plastic surgeon has determined that the source of the patient’s concerns and symptoms are due to her macromastia, the exact course of treatment is not always easy to decide. For some patients, surgery is the best course of treatment and yet, for others, weight loss and other treatments may be a better choice. Treatment choices are also influenced by many outside factors such as lifestyle, age, health, and future plans for childbearing and nursing. If the patient decides with her surgeon that surgery is the correct choice of treatment, there are still many “myths” about breast reduction surgery that may impact her feelings about having the procedure despite her symptoms and complaints. Despite all of the misinformation about breast reduction surgery, there is one thing that most plastic surgeons believe; breast reduction patients are some of the happiest and most satisfied patients that we treat! Now it is easy to make that statement but is there real data to back it? I think it is clear: the answer is YES!
There is a wealth of information documenting that patients who undergo a breast reduction procedure called a Reduction Mammaplasty to correct their macromastia-(a condition where the woman’s breasts are too large for her body size)-are very happy with their results. These patients note improvement in their pain and discomfort. They are able to perform more activities and exercise after their breast reduction procedures. They tell us-their plastic surgeons-that their overall lifestyle is improved. This has been documented in numerous studies including Dr. Rankin’s work published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 1998, Dr. Klassen’s work published in The British Journal of Plastic Surgery in 1996, and in many other studies. A recent article published by Miguel Sabino Neto, MD, PhD, et al, in Aesthetic Surgery Journal further reinforces the evidence that breast reduction patients are very happy and satisfied with their results after their reduction mammaplasty surgery. Dr. Neto’s group looked at two groups of patients with macromastia-group A patients were treated with breast reduction surgery while group B patients were treated with non-surgically. Both groups of patients were evaluated pre-treatment and post-treatment for self-esteem, functional capacity, and pain intensity using a battery of standardized testing techniques. The results demonstrated marked improvement in self-esteem in the surgically treated group with no improvement in the non-operative group. Similarly, the surgical group had improvement in their functional capacity and pain intensity when compared to their non-surgery control group.
So sometimes internet myths such as how happy breast reduction patients are after their procedures are really not myths but real facts; facts backed by well performed studies and research. And, on top of that, I see it in my patients almost every day.
Herluf Lund MD