Study Provides Convincing Data of Breast Reduction Benefits, Says American Society of Plastic Surgeons
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Women who undergo breast reduction surgery have improved physical symptoms and quality of life, says a review study in the May issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings®. The review and meta-analysis was supported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
“It has long been known by plastic surgeons that breast reduction improves the lives of our patients,” said ASPS Plastic Surgeon Petra Schneider-Redden, MD. “The procedure decreases severe back, neck and shoulder pain often experienced by women with large breasts. Along with the relief of physical symptoms, breast reduction surgery allows women to participate in sports, find clothes that fit well and improve their self-image. Perhaps because these benefits are becoming better known, more women are choosing to have it done. Since 1992, breast reduction procedures increased 111 percent – 83, 869 women had breast reduction procedures in 2000.”
The meta-analysis is a statistical pool of data from available scientific literature that allows conclusions to be drawn that could not be made from data in a single study. The meta-analysis, carried out by non-plastic surgeons to reduce the likelihood of bias, reviewed all of the breast reduction literature available worldwide. Using a rigorous protocol, the scientists narrowed their analysis to 29 studies in five languages involving more than 4,000 patients between 1985 and 1999. This review concluded that breast reduction surgery positively helps patients both in improved physical symptoms and quality of life.
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“At issue with this procedure, is the reluctance of insurance companies to provide coverage for breast reduction surgery,” said Dr. Schneider-Redden. “Insurers often claim the operation is performed for cosmetic rather than therapeutic reasons. Managed care executives and medical directors typically require objective evidence to prove a procedure is medically necessary. With this Proceedings® review and two ASPS studies presented in 2000, there is now ample evidence to support the health benefits of the procedure.”
Two ASPS studies presented in 2000 support the findings of the meta-analysis.
The BRAVO study (Breast Reduction: Assessment of Value and Outcome) was conducted in 15 plastic surgery practices throughout the U.S. Participants were measured in various categories: physical health, mental health, pain and quality of life. Evaluations after surgery showed participants had significant improvement in all categories.
“The Proceedings® meta-analysis is a comprehensive piece that adds power to and reinforces the general belief that breast reduction improves symptoms,” said Carolyn Kerrigan, MD, lead author on the BRAVO study. “In our study, we very clearly described the burden of having large breasts, illustrated the surgical benefit of breast reduction on physical symptoms and defined new measures for insurance carriers to assess the need for covering the procedure.”
The second study also reported significant improvement in muscle strength, postural measures and pain reduction following breast reduction surgery.
ASPS, celebrating its 70th anniversary, was founded in 1931. The leading authority on the specialty of plastic surgery, it is the largest plastic surgery organization in the world, representing physicians certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. To find an ABPS-certified plastic surgeon in your area or to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, call the Plastic Surgery Information Service at (888) 4-PLASTIC (1-888-475-2784) or visit www.plasticsurgery.org.