The issue whether teenage girls with symptomatic macromastia should have breast reduction surgery is open to debate. It will depend on their maturity level, the growth rate of their breasts, the problems they’re encountering and other factors. In this blog, I’ll discuss what should be considered before surgery, what’s involved and what are the possible complications.
In general, breast reduction is advised for patients above 18 years of age. However, some adolescent girls feel overburdened by overly large breasts and seek the surgery, due to several reasons, including:
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Irritation under the breast fold
- Difficulty in finding clothes that fit
- Inframammary dermatitis
- Undesired attention
- Low self-esteem and associate quality of life issues
A Harvard study showed that Macromastia or large breasts often have a negative impact on the self-esteem, quality of life and the eating behaviour of adolescents. This procedure is a viable and safe option to combat these problems.
Finding out if the patient qualifies for a breast reduction
During consultation, a plastic surgeon takes many things into consideration before suggesting whether this procedure is the best alternative for a teenager faced with macromastia. The most important point that a surgeon considers is whether the breasts are growing or have stopped growing. If the breasts have not changed in size for the past six months, any future growth is most often ruled out and the adolescent is regarded as a fit candidate for the surgery.
The decision to have this surgery in adolescence depends on the patient’s physical and mental condition and preparedness. Since each patient’s circumstances are different, the procedure may be the best alternative for one patient and may not be the most appropriate option for another. The recent Cosmetic Surgery Guidelines issued by the AHPRA suggest "A three-month cooling off period for patients under 18 years old, as well as mandatory counselling by a psychologist, psychiatrist or GP".
Though the surgery can be life changing for teen girls, minor complications cannot be ruled out. Scarring of the breasts is common following the surgery. In some cases, the patient may experience loss of sensationin the nipple, which may impair breastfeeding in the future. It is important that the adolescent knows and understands the potential risks before having the surgery.
Breast reduction involves removing excess fat and glandular tissue from the lower and outer portions of the breasts and moving the nipples and areola, repositioning them to a higher position to give them a more natural appearance. During recovery phase, the patient may experience some swelling, bruising, and discomfort, which can last for a few weeks.
Irrespective of the patient’s age, a pre-operative consultation with a plastic surgeon is crucial. The plastic surgeon will try to understand the patient’s concerns and reasonsfor wanting a breast reduction, go through the patient’s medical history to see if there are other problems which might interfere with the procedure. It’s important to note that underage patients must be mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared for the procedure.
Patients who undergo the procedure at an early age experience relief of the symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life, with a remarkable increase in confidence and self esteem. After surgery, the patients are also more willing to participate in sports and other activities without experiencing any problems.
Since you’re reading this article, you may be interested in attending one of my free monthly information evenings. It’s for people who have questions about cosmetic surgery, but are not yet ready to commit to a one on one consultation. Held in an intimate and friendly group setting, of no more than ten people, you’ll have an opportunity to speak directly with me about the type of surgery or treatment you’re interested in. Don’t worry, you’re not expected to commit to anything after this event. If you’d like to learn more about the evening or register your place, simply click on the button below.