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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002 Dec;110(7):1644-52; discussion 1653-4.

Reduction mammaplasty is a functional operation, improving quality of life in symptomatic women: a prospective, single-center breast reduction outcome study.

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Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Breast hypertrophy creates a functional disability, adversely affecting quality of life because of disproportionate upper body weight. No study to date has prospectively shown or statistically proved (using validated questionnaires) the functional benefits of breast reduction surgery. Moreover, no study has quantified the physical findings seen in these patients. A prospective trial was designed to illustrate objectively the functional benefits of breast reduction surgery and answer the question, Does surgically removing breast tissue in symptomatic patients (regardless of amount of tissue removed) improve their physical disabilities related to breast hypertrophy, and in turn, improve their quality of life? Fifty-five consecutive patients with an average age of 38 years (range, 18 to 73 years) undergoing breast reduction surgery by the senior surgeon (L.A.C.) were recruited for this study. The North American Spine Society (NASS) Lumbar Spine Outcome Assessment Instrument was used to assess patients' disability, expectations for treatment, and satisfaction with treatment. The visual analogue scale was used to quantify pain intensity. Muscle strengths of the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, rhomboid, middle trapezius, and lower trapezius muscles and postural measures were obtained. Information was collected preoperatively and 6 months postoperatively for comparison. The mean cumulative preoperative NASS Lumbar Spine Outcome Assessment Instrument disability score was 1.94 +/- 0.68, and the mean cumulative postoperative disability score was 1.16 +/- 0.35 (p = 0.0001); 96.1 percent of patients met expectations to a certain degree and, of these patients, 96 percent were very satisfied with their surgery. The mean cumulative baseline preoperative visual analogue score for all participants was 6.2 +/- 2.06, and their mean cumulative postoperative score was 0.53 +/- 0.88 (p = 0.0001). There was statistically significant improvement of muscle strength in the rhomboids, middle trapezius, and lower trapezius muscles (p < 0.001). All postural measures showed improvement postoperatively, with head translation and cranial rotation showing statistical improvement (p < 0.05). This single-center, single-surgeon breast reduction outcome study showed that the signs and symptoms of breast hypertrophy are definable in a consistent manner. By standardizing and quantifying preoperative and postoperative evaluations with validated questionnaires, validated pain scoring, and standardized muscle and posture testing, it was shown that breast reduction for symptomatic breast hypertrophy can effect a statistically significant improvement in these objective measures of pain, disability, muscle weakness, and poor posture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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