Breast reduction produces measurable physical and psychosocial health benefits, new research shows.

Of 49 patients undergoing breast reduction, 78% anonymously completed the BREAST-Q before and/or after surgery. Participants reported significant improvements in satisfaction with the appearance of the breasts and psychosocial, sexual, and physical well-being after their surgery. On a 100-point scale, satisfaction with breast appearance increased from about 20 before surgery to more than 80 afterward, the study showed. Satisfaction with breast appearance was most strongly related to satisfaction with the overall outcome, the study showed.

The findings are published in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

There were also gains seen in scores for psychosocial well-being: from 41 to 84, sexual well-being: from 40 to 78, and physical well-being: from 43 to 81. The procedure also relieved pain in the breast, neck, back, and shoulders. In addition to reducing pain, breast reduction led to significant improvements in sleep and ability to exercise.

The benefits of breast reduction are seen as little as 6 weeks after surgery. Improvements also occur after relatively small reductions in breast size, which argues against arbitrary insurance coverage guidelines for the amount of tissue removed.

“The improvement in physical activity, decrease in costly chronic medical complaints, and improvement in overall quality of life indicated by this survey study validates insurance coverage for this procedure,” conclude researchers led by Michelle Coriddi, MD, of the Wexner Medical Center at the Ohio State University, Columbus.