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Large Breasts Can Take Mental, Physical Toll on Teens
Date:7/16/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- For many teen girls, an overly large cup size may not be such a good thing, with many reporting serious discomfort both physically and emotionally because of their large breasts.

According to a new study, for some, these issues are troubling enough for them to seek breast-reduction surgery.

Dr. Brian Labow, the lead author of the study, performs about 100 breast-reduction surgeries a year on adolescent girls, and he thought the topic had been understudied.

"I wondered, how do you measure the impact of the surgery? And do adolescents benefit by waiting until they're older to get the surgery?" said Labow, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a pediatric plastic surgeon at Children's Hospital Boston.

Macromastia -- large breasts -- is considered a common condition by plastic surgeons. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were more than 63,000 breast-reduction surgeries conducted in the United States in 2011.

Labow said girls seeking breast-reduction surgery in adolescence typically do so because they have experienced issues such as neck and shoulder pain, low self-esteem, undesired attention and difficulty finding clothes that fit.

Still, it's difficult to predict who among the big-breasted will be troubled, Labow said. "There are people with large breasts who are happy," he noted. And making a diagnosis of macromastia is not simple either, since a very short girl wearing a "D" cup size bra may be miserable, while a taller teen may feel fine with that size, he explained.

"Most teenage girls really don't want to come to a doctor and discuss this. By the time I see them, the breast has become their enemy," explained Labow.

Complicating the situation is the fact that about two-thirds of adolescents with macromastia are overweight. But Labow said effective weight
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