Breast Reduction Surgery A Weighty Issue
First Published: Investigator - July 2008
A new study at Flinders Medical Centre is assessing physical and psychological outcomes following breast reduction surgery.
The aim of the study is to determine which women benefit most from surgery – and whether that correlates with their original breast size.
‘We’re hypothesising that the bigger the bust, the better the outcome in terms of less pain, headaches, rashes and lowered self esteem,’ said research coordinator and Flinders Medical Centre occupational therapist Karen Burford.
Around 30 women - with cup sizes generally EE upwards - have breast reduction surgery at Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders Private Hospital each year.
Lead investigator and head of the General and Plastics Unit at FMC, Mr Phil Griffin, said while some people believed breast reduction surgery was a cosmetic procedure, for many women it was a medical necessity.
‘Having oversized breasts can be very debilitating and lead to a poorer quality of life. Many women can’t even exercise, let alone run or jump, and most experience constant backache, neck pain, headaches and rashes.’
He said the ‘embarrassment’ factor was also a key issue for women, with many suffering lowered self esteem due to stares or comments from people. ‘Some women won’t even get undressed in front of their partners.’
Phil said while previous studies had measured functional improvement following breast reduction surgery, this was believed to be the first time researchers had used an exact method to measure breast volume before and after surgery.
Central to the study is a $221,000 three-dimensional body scanner, which can scan a woman’s exact breast volume in 17 seconds.
Assistant researcher and FMC registrar Alexa Potter said while it was too early to make any conclusions, very early verbal feedback from women involved in the study had been positive.
The scanner was purchased with the assistance of funding from the SA Department of Health and will be used for other research projects at Flinders.
‘Almost all patients have reported immediate relief from back and neck pain and that they are more active and happier. They are also motivated to get back to improving their fitness levels and self esteem.’
The five-year study aims to recruit around 200 women. Women involved in the study will be followed up over a 12-month period. It is hoped the research will help to prioritise the waiting list for breast reduction surgery at Flinders.