Big breasts can cause significant health problems, some of which can lead to a lower life expectancy. “Many of the women that come to me desperate for breast reductions are in a great deal of pain,” explains Kirwan. “For women with very large breasts, the wear and tear on the body can be significant. The strain can cause nerve damage, lead to slipped discs and a multitude of spinal problems.”
Moreover, women are less likely to exercise with large breasts, potentially leading to obesity. “Patients find themselves in a ridiculous Catch-22 situation,” adds Kirwan. “Trying to exercise with large breasts can be so painful that they may well give up on lifestyle regimes.” The complications of large breasts have been found to reduce a woman’s life expectancy by an average of five years.
Kirwan is therefore currently arguing that “aesthetic procedures like breast reductions can improve both the quality and expectancy of the subject’s life.” However, breast reductions are currently seen as “vanity” procedures by the NHS and health insurers are refusing to pay for operations for overweight patients or smokers.
“Sadly, many women feel embarrassed going to their GP for help, fearing it will be dismissed as vanity because the media tells them that this is the generally held view. It is wrong for NHS Trusts to dismiss plastic surgery as simply the domain of the vain.”
Supporting studies of Kirwan’s theory include a Scandanavian study conducted in 2008 which found that the health benefits of a breast reduction equated to the health benefits of a hip replacement.
An American study in 2007 also found that the weight of large breasts caused curvatures of the spine, disc and nerve damage, and breast reductions led to healthier, active patients who had successfully lost weight through natural methods. “It would be common sense to conclude that a breast reduction, as early as possible in the woman’s life, would have the potential increase her life by five years,” Kirwan concluded.
There are several other procedures which are currently considered ‘cosmetic procedures’ but have been proven to have life-improving effects. Abdominoplasty or tummy-tucks which repair split abdominal muscles have been shown to improve posture and back pain, but these surgeries are currently unavailable on the NHS or through medical insurance companies.
An American study in the nineties found that 24 of 25 patients who received a surgery that repaired split abdominal muscles reported a substantial reduction in chronic back pain. Additionally, another USA study twenty years later found that the quality of life was increased after patients received liposuction or a tummy-tuck.
What do you think? Should breast reductions and tummy tucks be available on the NHS or through health insurance? Do you agree that overweight patients shouldn’t receive treatments through the NHS? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments section.