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A Retrospective Study of Changes in Physical Symptoms and Body Image after Reduction Mammaplasty

Glatt, Brian S. M.D.; Sarwer, David B. Ph.D.; O'Hara, Daniel E. M.D.; Hamori, Christine M.D.; Bucky, Louis P. M.D.; LaRossa, Don M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: January 1999 - Volume 103 - Issue 1 - p 76–82
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Reduction mammaplasty is performed typically to alleviate the painful physical symptoms of macromastia. Women who suffer from macromastia also frequently present to the plastic surgeon with heightened body image dissatisfaction and maladaptive behavioral changes in response to their breast size. Numerous investigations have demonstrated improvement in physical symptoms after breast reduction surgery. Studies have also suggested that psychological improvement occurs postoperatively; however, they have not used well-validated, standardized psychological measures. The present study is a retrospective analysis of the physical and psychological status of women who underwent reduction mammaplasty. One hundred ten patients who underwent a reduction mammaplasty between 1982 and 1996 were mailed a packet of questionnaires designed to assess current physical symptoms and body image. Sixty-one of the 110 patients (55 percent) responded. The vast majority reported substantial improvement or elimination of neck, back, shoulder, and breast pain, grooving from bra straps, poor posture, skin irritation, and social embarrassment. In addition, they reported significantly less dissatisfaction with their breasts as compared with a sample of breast reduction patients assessed preoperatively. Symptom relief and improved body image occurred independently of preoperative body weight, as we found few significant differences between obese and non-obese women concerning the resolution of physical symptoms or improvement in body image. Results provide further evidence of the efficacy of reduction mammaplasty not only for relief of physical symptoms but also for alleviation of body image dissatisfaction. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 103: 76, 1999.)

Philadelphia, Pa.

Don LaRossa, M.D. 10 Penn Tower 3400 Spruce Street Philadelphia, Pa. 19104

From the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Psychiatry, and the Edwin and Fannie Gray Hall Center for Human Appearance. Received for publication January 22, 1998; revised May 21, 1998.

Presented in part at the 14th Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Society of Plastic Surgeons in Bermuda, October 26 through 29, 1997, and at the Robert H. Ivy Society Meeting, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, March 8 and 9, 1997.

©1999American Society of Plastic Surgeons