ARTICLE

Breast Reduction – Is It Cost Effective?

It is well known that large breasts (known as breast hypertrophy) affects quality of life and causes physical and psychosocial problems for many women. Ask any woman who has large breasts and she will tell you about her unwanted attention, neckache, backache, difficulty with sport and exercise and how its almost impossible to buy clothes off the rack.

Breast reduction surgery is known to be highly effective for relieving the discomfort and the functional problems associated with breast hypertrophy and in improving quality of life. Unfortunately, however breast reduction is often regarded as a cosmetic rather than a functional operation and therefore some Healthcare Providers and Healthcare Funders restrict access to this type of surgery, despite evidence of its therapeutic benefits.

A recent study at the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide compared a group of women with breast hypertrophy who underwent surgery with a group who were awaiting surgery.

Not surprisingly the study found that breast reduction was highly cost effective when comparing the health outcomes for the group that had undergone breast reduction compared to the control group.

The study yielded some other interesting results. For example, the study found that smokers had a higher rate of post-surgical complications than non-smokers (26% compared to 9%). Also, women with larger breasts experience complications more frequently than women with relatively smaller breasts. Most complications were minor and did not require readmission to hospital.

This study provides compelling evidence that breast reduction is not a cosmetic operation but provides considerable health benefits and should be available to all women with symptomatic breast hypertrophy.

 

Allan Kalus
FRCS, FRCS(Ed) FRACS
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon