Breast Asymmetry Affects Teens' Mental Health, Says Study

How Asymmetrical Breasts Affect a teen’s Mental Health

If your adolescent daughter constantly complains about her asymmetrical breasts, don’t dismiss it as merely a vanity concern. Breast asymmetry affects teenage girls’ self-esteem, emotional well-being and social functioning, according to a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Here, Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. David Sayah discusses the study’s findings and the research team’s recommendations.

The Psychological Side Effects of “Abnormal” Breasts

A research team from Boston Children’s Hospital found that teenage girls with asymmetrical and oversized breasts had poorer emotional well-being and lower self-esteem than their peers with normal breasts.

Fifty-nine girls, ranging in age from 12 to 21, were surveyed. All patients had breasts that differed by at least one bra cup size. Forty percent of those girls had tuberous breast deformity, a congenital condition in which the breasts don’t develop normally. Two other groups of girls were surveyed: girls without breast asymmetry, and girls with oversized breasts (macromastia).

All of the girls were asked a series of questions to assess their emotional health and well-being. The girls with asymmetrical breasts and the girls with oversized breasts scored significantly lower than girls with normal breasts did.

Proposed Solutions

Study author Dr. Brian Labow, a surgeon and director of the Adolescent Breast Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, pointed out that adolescent girls’ breast concerns are typically ignored due to their age and continuing development. Differences in breast size are common, particularly during early adolescence. Although for most girls, breast size will even out, others are not so lucky.

Based on their findings, Dr. Labow’s team believes that early intervention could be beneficial to this population’s mental health. For example, the team suggested that insurance companies explore the possibility of coverage for reconstructive surgery for teens with severe breast abnormalities.

However, the team is quick to point out that most of these girls don’t necessarily need reconstructive surgery. As an alternative solution, Dr. Labow’s team is working with the oncology department at the hospital to modify swimsuits, bras and other types of clothing to accommodate girls with asymmetry concerns. “…With corrective clothing, a girl can feel more confident. She can feel whole,” said Dr. Labow.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Editor-in-Chief Dr. Rod J. Rohrich commented on the research team’s findings, saying, “This important study was able to conclude that breast asymmetry — which, unfortunately, is often classified as a cosmetic issue — is truly a condition which has lasting psychological and emotional effects, just like macromastia.”

Contact Dr. Sayah

For the right candidates, breast surgery can have a dramatically positive impact on their self-esteem and psychological well-being. If you would like more information on breast asymmetry treatment or breast reduction surgery, please contact Dr. David Sayah today by calling (310) 905-8405 or sending an email.

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