Shakespeare, V. and Postle, K.
A qualitative study of patients’ views on the effects of breast-reduction surgery: a 2-year follow-up survey
Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, 52, (3), . (doi:10.1054/bjps.1999.3106).
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The objectives of this study were to discover the views of patients about the effects of breast-reduction surgery carried out 2 years previously, to detect any change from perceptions at 3–6 months after surgery, and to determine whether the benefits of this operation are maintained long term. Qualitative research methods were employed, comprising: (a) an open-format survey of opinions; (b) semi-structured telephone interviews with a smaller number of patients; and (c) assessment of self-concept using a well-known scalar measure (the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale).
The subjects were 93 patients treated at the regional Plastic Surgery Service in Salisbury, who had previously participated in a quantitative study at 3–6 months after surgery. Sixty patients responded to the 2-year follow-up. Benefits of breast reduction most valued by patients did not change significantly with time and were: relief of pain and discomfort, which led to increased physical activity and better general health; greatly increased choice and fit of attractive clothes and underwear; improved personal and social life, leading to enhanced relationships with partner or friends; and greatly improved self-confidence in all areas of life. The interaction of all these factors led to improved self-image and improved quality of life. The main disadvantage of the operation for a small number of patients was the persistence of painful, disfiguring scarring which in two cases had a detrimental effect on social and personal relationships and led to a deterioration in quality of life. Improvement in self-esteem after surgery was maintained in 55 out of the 60 2-year responders.
The results indicate that breast reduction confers significant health gains which are maintained in the long term.
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