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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2007 Feb;119(2):481-6.

Symptoms and related severity experienced by women with breast hypertrophy.

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Division of Plastic Surgery and Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Canada.



Breast hypertrophy is a common condition that can be associated with significant morbidity. Symptoms emphasized in the literature include physical problems such as pain, intertrigo, and exercise restrictions. The purpose of this study was to explore the suffering experienced by women with breast hypertrophy and to evaluate the importance of different symptoms.


Twenty-one women with breast hypertrophy were divided into five focus groups guided by a facilitator. Open discussion was encouraged to generate a comprehensive list of symptoms experienced by women with breast hypertrophy. Subjects then completed an iterative process to determine the relative importance of each symptom. Conversations were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using Nvivo software.


A weighted list of 45 dominant symptoms was created from an initial pool of 128. Physical pain symptoms predominated in the older age group, whereas younger women expressed more psychological symptoms. Difficulties experienced by these women transcended all aspects of their lives. Back, neck, and shoulder pain were considered most troublesome, followed by exercise difficulties, poor posture, and low self-esteem.


This study provides insight into the burden of breast hypertrophy and has implications for the objective assessment of this condition in the clinical setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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