For most women, nature doesn’t create perfectly symmetrical breasts. It’s thought that one in four women’s breasts are different in shape or size; sometimes it’s a subtle difference, but for many it is significant and can cause a great deal of distress.
For young women this can have a negative impact on their self-image and now a new study has found that surgical correction can have profound benefits in terms of quality of life and wellbeing.
Appearing in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the study reported on young women with an average age of 18 who underwent surgery to correct severe breast asymmetry.
Dr Brian Labow and his colleagues at the Boston Children’s Hospital studied 45 young teens, between 2008 and 2018, all of whom had severe asymmetry – typically, a two-cup size different between breasts. The 45 women and 101 women not affected by breast asymmetry were surveyed prior to surgery and a few years later.
Seventy per cent of the women suffered from ‘hypoplastic’ breast asymmetry, which means one or both breasts are underdeveloped. The rest of the breast asymmetry patients had macromastia, or excessively large breasts on one side. Some were also diagnosed with tuberous breasts, which means that the breasts are constricted at the base.
“Surgical treatment of breast asymmetry in young women yields significant and sustained improvements in psychosocial quality of life,” the researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital write.
Before surgery, surveys showed that the women had all experienced reduced self-esteem which had affected how they functioned socially or in relationships, compared to their peers. In a follow-up survey, completed a number of years post-procedure, all the women registered a significant improvement in their self-esteem, ability to function socially and emotional wellbeing, with these improvements being maintained for a minimum of five years.
What does breast asymmetry correction involve
Breast asymmetry correction actually involves a number of different techniques and Mr Alex Karidis will carefully tailor each patient’s bespoke procedure to their unique needs.
This is evident from the surgery that the women in the study underwent; 28 patients underwent breast augmentation on one or both sides. Fourteen had a breast reduction on one side, sometimes combined with procedures on the opposite breasts. The remaining patients underwent a combination of different procedures.
- Boosting the breast: if one breast is significantly smaller than the other, the breast volume in the smaller breast can be increased with a breast implant. Often patients want to increase volume in both sides and Mr Karidis will choose the appropriate implants and placement technique to create the most symmetrical result possible.
- Reducing the breast: often one breast can be excessively large in comparison to the other and a breast reduction, often combined with a lift, will produce a more balanced, natural and youthful look.
- A natural augmentation: fat transfer to the breast is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to breast implants and it can be used to sculpt and balance the breasts.
Often breast asymmetry can be dismissed as purely a cosmetic concern, but it is clear that surgery can have a significant benefit. While an expert plastic surgeon can achieve a huge improvement in appearance of the breasts, though, it is important that patients have realistic expectations and that it is nearly impossible to make the breasts perfectly symmetrical breasts.