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Breast-Feeding, Self-Exam, and Exercise Practices Before and After Reduction Mammoplasty

Brown, Jennifer R. MD, MS*; Holton, Luther H. III MD†‡; Chung, Thomas L. MD§; Slezak, Sheri MD

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e318160223f
Breast Surgery

The current indications for reduction mammoplasty include the relief of painful physical symptoms of macromastia. Numerous studies have demonstrated not only improvement in physical symptoms following reduction mammoplasty, but postoperative psychological benefits as well, including increased ability to participate in physical activity as a result of pain relief and decreased breast mass. Reduction mammoplasty may have additional effects on the patient's ability to breast-feed and perform breast self-exam. The present study is a retrospective study of the effects of reduction mammoplasty on breast-feeding, breast self-exam, physical symptoms, and physical activity. One-hundred and forty-one patients who underwent reduction mammoplasty at our institution between the years 1996–2005 agreed to participate in the study. Each was asked a series of questions in order to assess changes in symptoms and behaviors including breast-feeding and breast self-exam practices before and after the surgery. Patients were also asked questions regarding their pain symptoms and physical activity profiles. Ninety-seven percent of the participants claimed to have back, neck, and/or shoulder pain that was either significantly improved or completely resolved. Moreover, 100% of patients report that physical activity such as exercise was easier following reduction mammoplasty. Ninety-three percent of participants reported that performing breast self-exam following surgery was either the same (68%) or easier (25%) as a result of having less breast tissue. Eighty-nine percent of participants had no children following surgery, therefore effects on breast-feeding practices following reduction mammoplasty were not statistically significant. However, we suggest that when patients are seen in consultation or in the perioperative period, there is an opportunity to teach patients about the benefits of breast-feeding, and to assure patients that a pedicle flap reduction will likely allow breastfeeding. This is also a chance for physicians to teach patients how to perform breast self-examination and explain the importance of early breast mass detection.

From the Departments of *Internal Medicine and †Plastic Surgery, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD; ‡Department of Plastic Surgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD; and §Department of Surgery, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD.

Received July 10, 2007 and accepted for publication, after revision, October 25, 2007.

Reprints: Jennifer R. Brown, 7256 Riding Hood Circle, Columbia, MD 21045. E-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.