In high school, looks are everything. It’s not just important for the prom queen types, many girls feel pressured to fit into the trendy crowd. These days it’s normal for a teen to get highlights, wear designer jeans and workout to keep a thin figure. It’s a hormone-fueled time where opinions matter. For girls with a busty figure, it’s even tougher. In some cases, teens are so bothered by the size of their breasts they are seeking breast reduction surgery, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Dr. Brian Labow, who performs about 100 breast-reduction surgeries a year on adolescent girls, says the teens with large cup sizes complain of physical and emotional problems because of the size of their chest. “Most teenage girls really don’t want to come to a doctor and discuss this. By the time I see them, the breast has become their enemy,” Labow explained to HealthDay News.
Labow says this problem does have a medical name: macromastia. When breasts are oversized for a certain body type and cause neck or back pain, along with emotional trauma, a diagnosis of macromastia can be declared. Labow wanted to learn more about this topic and conducted a study. Through a survey, Labow found macromastia has a substantial negative impact on health-related quality of life. Problems include self-esteem issues, increased physical symptoms and increased risk of eating behaviors among adolescents. Labow believes these reasons are valid enough to preform breast reduction surgery sooner rather than later. He believes waiting until the teen ages only increases pain. “They are suffering. If you wait about three years after menarche [when a girl's menstrual periods start], the breasts may grow slightly but not enough to necessitate waiting longer,” he said.
Furthermore, the study shows that many of the girls dealing with the condition are overweight, adding another layer of complication to problem. Dr. Malcolm Roth, chief of the division of plastic surgery at Albany Medical Center, in New York, and president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said, “Especially for those who are overweight, the risks include delayed wound healing, scarring and an unsatisfactory outcome.” While this may be a deterrent for a doctor to perform surgery, Labow says diet and exercise is unlikely to reduce breast size significantly.
Of course, this problem comes with a cost. If classified as reconstructive surgery, it is almost always covered by insurance, Labow said. However, if the insurance company doesn’t help with the bill, an estimated cost of the 2.5-hour outpatient surgery, including five office visits, is about $15,000.
As in all cases, a trained board-certified surgeon can help young women and their parents come to a logical conclusion if macromastia is a problem.
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