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The effect of macromastia on female mental health
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Many struggle with framing bodies in a positive light. An individual might have a particular feature he or she is uncomfortable with like a birthmark or a scar. In more extreme circumstances, some must deal with physical features that are so burdensome they require medical intervention. These situations can create emotional, physical and financial burdens. One common example of a disabling physical feature is macromastia, or abnormally large breast size.

A person who has personally dealt with these problems is Jaclyn Voran. She had a 34DD bust size which weighed in at over four pounds on her small five-foot-one frame. She had the issue in her teen years, adding awkwardness to an already difficult time for many young people.

“I knew the feeling firsthand: In high school, I usually stuffed myself into a sports bra, sometimes two, to flatten my chest. One time I even duct-taped my breasts apart to spare myself from revealing an obscene amount of cleavage in my prom dress,” said Voran.

Even in these kinds of situations, teenagers are often asked to wait until their early adult years for surgery, as it’s not unusual for women to continue developing until their early twenties. To further add to the struggle attached to this condition, insurance providers consider breast reduction a cosmetic operation unless patients meet a lengthy list of physical symptoms (psychological trauma isn’t ever considered). Additionally many doctors are required to try helping fit patients for better bras or trying other therapeutic measures before resorting to surgery. For Varon the struggle was both emotional and physical. Exercise could cause an infection beneath her breasts. She faced neck pain that could be so intense she couldn’t even move her head.

When Varon finally had her surgery, she felt an incredible weight off her shoulders with a more manageable chest size of 32C.

“Sitting up for the first time since surgery, I marveled at the lightness of my chest. I laughed out loud,” said Varon. “Today, my scars are barely noticeable. My neck doesn’t hurt, and my shoulders don’t ache. I can wear dresses that fit, no duct tape necessary.”

The effect of Macromastia

In the case of macromastia, breasts become the root of serious health, financial and emotional complications:

  • Unwanted attention – Women with macromastia can be bullied and teased for their body type. If they want to cover up or suppress their chest, they must buy special undergarments. Teenagers often feel frequent social pressures from their peers and macromastia doesn’t help with warding off negative attention
  • Mental health – Those with this condition are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. A study by Brian Labow, M.D., studied women from the ages of 12 to 21 years old, including a control group and found macromastia to be a major factor in causing low self-esteem, eating disorders and severe physical discomfort
  • Financial burdens – One preferred way of treating macromastia is surgical intervention. Insurance companies may require weight loss and proof of physical burden due to the medical condition. While the cost of breast reduction without insurance can vary wildly, breast reduction procedures land somewhere 5,000 and 7,000 dollars. Then there is the possibility of further surgeries if the patient isn’t happy with the initial result or something goes wrong with the first surgery
  • Decreased social and athletic opportunities – Sports require unencumbered movement and large chests often interfere with running, jumping, swinging a golf club and other movements of the arms. Additionally women with macromastia may be at risk of developing physical issues such as intertrigo which is an infection which develops under the breasts because of exercise.
  • Physical problems – These include hunching, neck and back pain (to the point where it’s difficult to move the head), sores and scabs from bra strain, possible infections and numbing or tingling in the fingers

Living with the stress of a condition like macromastia might lead to insecurity, lack of self-esteem and more debilitating physical problems. Sovereign Health of Arizona is designed to deal with the mental and emotional issues that can result from issues such as these including depression, trauma and even substance abuse. Our thorough diagnosis procedures ensure every patient is treated with care and compassion. To talk to one of our admissions specialists call (866) 598-5661.

Written by Nicholas Ruiz Sovereign Health Group writer

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