Washington: A new study has revealed that differences in breast size have a significant mental health impact in adolescent girls, affecting self-esteem, emotional well-being, and social functioning.
According to the study, more than just a "cosmetic issue," breast asymmetry can have negative psychological and emotional effects and they suggest that early intervention may have mental health benefits for young women with even relatively mild breast size differences.
Several aspects of mental health and well-being were lower for girls with breast asymmetry, compared to those with "normal" breasts. After adjustment for differences in body weight, breast asymmetry was associated with significantly lower scores for emotional well-being and self-esteem.
The differences were similar to those in girls with macromastia-another common condition with a known mental health impact. Breast asymmetry was also associated with "borderline" issues in social functional and eating behaviors and attitudes.
The researchers said that the findings suggest that patients suffering from breast asymmetry have poorer emotional well-being and lower self-esteem than their female peers.
The psychosocial effects of breast asymmetry are similar to those in girls with overlarge breasts-as well as in boys with enlarged breasts and even women with differences in the breasts related to breast cancer surgery. The researchers note that although federal provisions ensure insurance coverage for surgery to correct asymmetry in breast cancer survivors due to the known psychological effects, no such provisions exist for younger women with congenital breast asymmetry. As a result, treatment for breast asymmetry in adolescents is often not reimbursed by insurance, with the justification that there is "no functional impairment."
The study was published in the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.