Does breast size and shape matter? When it comes to eating disorders, the answer is “yes,” according to a study just published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The study, conducted by Laura Nuzzi and her colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital, is the first of its kind, and followed more than 350 12 to 21-year-old adolescent girls. The team found a “significant impact on the psychological well-being of adolescents caused by breast asymmetry, regardless of age or body mass index”.
Researchers recruited female adolescents aged 12 to 21 years presenting with breast asymmetry, during a period from 2008 through 2013. They recorded demographic data on height, weight, and other clinical information. Subjects were matched with controls were within the same age range and that did not have similar breast conditions. All study participants completed a health survey, a self-esteem scale, and the Eating Attitudes Test.
The researchers found that girls with asymmetrical breasts and those with macromastia, a condition that causes abnormally large breasts, had lower overall self-esteem and emotional functioning, and were more likely to develop eating disorders. The negative psychological impacts were just as severe regardless of how far from “normal” the girls’ breasts were. It is likely that breast asymmetry is connected with a distorted sense of body image.
The team of doctors at Boston’s Children’s Hospital concluded that adolescents with uneven or abnormally large breasts should be offered medical help to ease the negative psychological effects associated with breast size and shape. The researchers state, “early evaluation and intervention for these patients may be beneficial, and should include weight control and mental health counseling.” In some cases, reconstructive surgery may also be a consideration.