Summary: Adolescent girls and young women can feel an immense pressure to achieve a common ideal of normalcy in their growing bodies. Teens are often riddled with insecurities to begin with, and if their bodies somehow fall short of a certain societal standard, whether real or imaginary, the psychological impacts can be significant.
Elective surgical procedures for the breasts are typically understood to be purely cosmetic. However, surgical correction of breast conditions that may be perceived by teens as abnormalities, such as asymmetry or macromastia, can in fact serve a primarily psychological purpose.
The Psychological Impact of Breast Asymmetry in Teens
While asymmetry in breasts to a slight degree is nearly universal, more pronounced unevenness can take a toll on women’s emotional well-being, especially in younger teens who are experiencing a breadth of societal and peer pressures.
In a recent study conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), adolescent girls aged 12 to 21 with breast asymmetry of at least one cup size were found to exhibit signs of poor mental health and general wellbeing as compared to girls and women of the same age group with more symmetrical breast sizes.
Mental health is commonly measured in terms of social functioning, eating behaviors and attitudes. Teens with breast asymmetry showed signs of “borderline” social functioning, along with unhealthy eating habits and poor general attitudes. The findings may have significant implications for the importance of cosmetic correction of breast asymmetry.
The Value of Surgical Intervention
Studies on cosmetic surgery have long since documented the positive emotional effects that are possible through surgical enhancement of the breasts, body and face. In fact, many cosmetic surgery patients report their primary reason for undergoing surgery to be the desire to achieve greater self-confidence, an improved body image or just to feel more positive in general.
With regards to the recent findings about the psychological impact of breast asymmetry in teens, the benefits of surgical intervention can be much more than superficial. To treat asymmetry in the breasts, the smaller breast can be augmented to achieve the same or similar size and shape as the larger. Conversely, if the patient prefers, the larger breast can be reduced to match the smaller. In both approaches, the goal is to create more symmetrical breasts and help the patient feel more confident about her body proportions.
By evening out breast size, young women can achieve a greater sense of satisfaction with their bodies. The emotional effects of surgical correction can reflect in improved social functioning and a healthier attitude and lifestyle.
How to Talk to Teens about Breast Asymmetry
While surgical intervention can be a positive influence on a young woman’s emotional health, it’s important for teens and young women not to feel pressured to resolve breast asymmetry with surgery.
Breast asymmetry is common among growing adolescents. In fact, in many young women, asymmetry simply evens out naturally with time, so teens should wait until they are fully developed before considering cosmetic surgery.
However, if asymmetry persists, the topic should be approached sensitively. Women need to feel comfortable reaching their own decisions about whether to correct breast asymmetry with cosmetic surgery.
Lastly, women hoping to treat asymmetrical breasts should take the time to find a cosmetic surgeon who specializes in breast enhancement and has had extensive experience correcting asymmetry. Because creating breasts that look naturally symmetrical can be a challenge, it is especially important to seek a skilled surgeon for the best results.