Breast Reduction in the Younger Patient
AT WHAT AGE CAN YOU HAVE A BREAST REDUCTION?
Mothers who have had a breast reduction by Dr. Gene Moor themselves, often bring in their daughters to have the same surgery. Some teenage girls, as young as eleven to fifteen years old and generally after puberty, develop massive breasts out of proportion to their body and chest size. As their mothers know, massive breasts can have a devastating impact on a young girl’s body image and on her self confidence. Dr. Moor has the experience and the surgical skills to treat the reduction surgery of a young girl. He has a deep understanding and knowledge of breast morphology.
Not only are overly large teenage breasts a source of embarrassment and a source of jokes and comments by other teenagers, the breast are frequently the cause of back pain and headaches and shoulder pain as well. Often times these young daughters have trouble finding properly fitting clothes. Athletic activities are hampered by the overly large breasts and they may be deselected from joining athletic teams. These teens abhor attracting undue attention. They want to be considered part of the crowd and wish to fit in. Their need is for breasts in proportion to their body.
A breast reduction may be indicated and depending on the insurance company, the surgery may be covered. There remains a chance of additive breast growth even after the reduction surgery. This is why some insurance companies will not cover a breast reduction until the patient is 18 years old regardless of how large the breasts are and how much psychological damage is at risk. Dr. Gene Moor and other well known plastic surgeons find that the reduced, smaller breasts give the young girl more self confidence and find that she is happy that she can then participate in activities that she could not participate in before.
Most of Dr. Moor’s young patients -along with their parents- would rather accept the chance that additional surgery in the future may be needed, than suffer from the hypertrophy in early life and be miserable during their teenage and early adolescent years. There is about a 10 to 15 % chance that the breasts will still grow.
DO ADOLESCENTS BENEFIT BY WAITING UNTIL THEY OLDER TO GET THE SURGERY?
Large breasts can be an asset or a liability. Plastic surgeons describe the condition of having large breasts as “macromastia.” There are teens with large breasts who are prom queens; other girls suffer physical and emotional discomfort.
Some teens are so burdened by overly large breasts that they seek breast reduction surgery. Philly.com spoke with a pediatric plastic surgeon who performs about 100 breast reduction surgeries a year on adolescent girls. His study on these teens asks one important question: “Do adolescents benefit by waiting until they’re older to get the surgery?”
Adolescent girls seek breast reduction surgery because of neck and shoulder pain, low self-esteem, undesired attention and difficulty finding clothes that fit. But there are teens with large breasts that are happy. Further, it’s not easy to make a diagnosis of macromastia. “A very short girl wearing a “D” cup size bra may be miserable, while a taller teen may feel fine with that size.”
A further complication is that most teens are uncomfortable visiting a doctor to discuss this problem. “By the time I see them, the breast has become their enemy,” says the doctor. Another factor is that two-thirds of teens with macromastia are overweight. However, weight reduction typically doesn’t resolve the breast-size problem.
Ninety-six girls between the ages of 12 to 21, diagnosed with macromastia, were studied by a plastic surgeon at Children’s Hospital in Boston. The control group was 103 healthy girls with no identified breast issues. Participants answered questions about physical functioning, pain, general health, vitality, social functioning, self-esteem, mental health, body image and eating. They were also asked breast-specific issues such as cup size, breast concerns and if they had considered breast surgery.
The study results suggest that macromastia has a negative impact on health-related quality of life, self-esteem, physical symptoms and eating behaviors among adolescents. According to Philly.com, there is a triple risk of eating disorders in this group compared with the girls in the control group.
Of significance is that the data support allowing girls to get the procedure in adolescence rather than making them wait. He says, “They are suffering. If you wait about three years after menarche, the breasts may grow slightly but not enough to necessitate waiting longer.”
Another prominent plastic surgeon warns that the surgery poses risks. “Especially for those who are overweight, the risks include delayed wound healing, scarring and an unsatisfactory outcome.” Possible side effects include an inability to breast feed and short-term changes in nipple sensitivity. For those reasons, it makes sense to first encourage the teen to lose weight. But that can be difficult, especially since macromastia can make it tough to exercise.
If you’re a teen with this problem, or the parent of such an adolescent, your best bet is to get more information from a board-certified plastic surgeon that has a significant history of dealing with macromastia.
Dr. Gene Moor at ALABAMA PLASTIC SURGERY in Birmingham, Alabama has performed many adolescent breast reduction surgeries.
YOUNG PATIENT TESTIMONIALS:
"The Breast Reduction surgery has impacted my life in many ways for the better. This procedure allowed me to have to confidence and relieved me of pain. Post surgery and recovery, I have found myself joining more sports and becoming more involved. I'm a lot more comfortable in my body. The breast reduction has empowered me to do new things. Without this surgery, I would have never found my new love for tennis. Overall, it has and will forever change my life for good."
"My experience with having large breasts as a teen was not a comfortable one at all. I was withdrawn, very self-conscious, I didn't have a social life, and I always wore overly large tops. My life now with much smaller proportioned breasts is the opposite. I'm loving life! I'm energetic and can move around more freely without being embarrassed and holding my head down all the time. Shopping is so much fun. I'm in college now, and I'm not ashamed of making new friends. My energy level is at a ten along with my confidence. Thank you Dr. Moor for giving me a life without boundaries!"