breast reduction

Women getting unnecessary mammograms before breast reduction

Every year in the UK around four thousand women choose to undergo a breast reduction procedure. This can be due to a number of factors, but commonly women were opting for this procedure because they were unhappy with the size of their breasts, or their breasts were causing back, shoulder or neck ache or resulting in skin problems underneath the breasts themselves. In the UK, the popularity of this type of operation is increasing year on year.

It has been discovered that women are so concerned about the risk of developing breast cancer that many are opting to be tested with a mammogram for breast tissue abnormalities. A mammogram is a test that is carried out by a female nurse to scan the breasts for abnormalities. It is essentially a type of x-ray and can be carried out in a clinic or sometimes in mobile screening units.

A sensible safeguard?

A report published recently suggests that the proportion of women who are choosing to have this done far outweighs the number of women who are actually at risk, and there is a suggestion that this is unnecessary.

Although the report cites data gathered in the US, the report outlines that a “new study published in JAMA Surgery found that nearly one-third of women younger than 40 underwent mammography before breast reduction surgery… Few may realise the unnecessary screenings come at a price — and not just a monetary one that adds to the nation’s health care bill.”

Although it might seem a sensible precaution to take, putting your body through the mammogram screening can result in complications later in life. It is believed to carry “a risk for subsequent tests and invasive procedures.” As such, it is recommended by some professional bodies (for example the American Society of Plastic Surgeons) that screening is only carried out when deemed necessary based on specific medical concerns.

Talk to your cosmetic surgeon about any concerns

For women who are concerned about the risks of developing breast cancer and who wish to undergo any form of breast surgery, it is always sensible to talk to your cosmetic surgeon first about anything you are concerned about. They see patients every day about breast surgery so will be able to advise the best course of action regarding your personal situation, your own medical history and relevant medical history of family members (regarding breast cancer occurrences). If they have any concerns once they have spoken with you, they may advise speaking with your GP as well, who can assess the necessity of being screened before your operation.