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Breast Reduction Surgery Found to Improve Physical, Mental Well-Being
Validated Tool Strengthens Evidence for Health Benefits, Reports Study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Arlington Heights, Ill. - Breast reduction surgery produces measurable improvements in several important areas of health and quality of life, reports a study in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

The study used the BREAST-Q© questionnaire, a well-validated survey instrument, to document the physical and psychosocial health benefits of breast reduction surgery. "The improvement in physical well-being is important for justification of insurance coverage," according to the paper by Dr. Michelle Coriddi and colleagues of Wexner Medical Center at the Ohio State University, Columbus.

Documented Gains in Well-Being after Breast Reduction

The study was designed to evaluate and confirm the benefits of breast reduction surgery-one of the most commonly performed breast plastic surgery procedures. Previous studies have found it highly effective in relieving symptoms related to overly large breasts.

The BREAST-Q was used to obtain a more complete picture of the clinical outcomes and is "the only questionnaire to assess breast reduction outcomes that meets international and federal standards for questionnaire development," according to Dr. Coriddi and coauthors.

In a series of 49 patients undergoing breast reduction, 78 percent anonymously completed the BREAST-Q before and/or after surgery. Changes in patient-reported satisfaction and quality of life after breast reduction were assessed.

The results showed significant improvement in all four areas evaluated on both the before and after questionnaires: satisfaction with the appearance of the breasts and psychosocial, sexual and physical well-being. On a 100-point scale, satisfaction with breast appearance increased from about 20 before surgery to more than 80 afterward.

There were also large improvements in scores for psychosocial well-being: from 41 to 84, sexual well-being: from 40 to 78, and physical well-being: from 43 to 81. As reported in previous studies, the procedure relieved pain in the breast, neck, back and shoulders.

BREAST-Q Helps Meet Need for Evidence-Based Outcomes Data

Satisfaction with breast appearance was most strongly related to satisfaction with the overall outcome. In addition to reducing pain, breast reduction led to significant improvements in sleep and ability to exercise.

The new study is important confirmation that breast reduction leads to improvements in physical and psychosocial well-being. "The improvement in physical activity, decrease in costly chronic medical complaints and improvement in overall quality of life indicated by this survey study validates insurance coverage for this procedure," the researchers write.

Dr. Coriddi and colleagues note that the benefits of breast reduction are seen shortly after surgery, as little as six weeks. Improvements also occur after relatively small reductions in breast size-which argues against arbitrary insurance coverage guidelines for the amount of tissue removed. The researchers plan further studies using the BREAST-Q to assess breast reduction outcomes, including more patients and long-term follow-up.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

About Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

For more than 70 years, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® has been the one consistently excellent reference for every specialist who uses plastic surgery techniques or works in conjunction with a plastic surgeon. The official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® brings subscribers up-to-the-minute reports on the latest techniques and follow-up for all areas of plastic and reconstructive surgery, including breast reconstruction, experimental studies, maxillofacial reconstruction, hand and microsurgery, burn repair, and cosmetic surgery, as well as news on medico-legal issues.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

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