Findings: Wrong bra size fuels surgery

July 18, 2003

Some women could be undergoing unnecessary breast-reduction surgery because they wear the wrong size bra, according to UK researchers, writes Natasha Gilbert.

Adam Greenbaum, specialist registrar in plastic and reconstructive surgery, and his colleagues at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester found in a study of 102 women seeking breast-reduction surgery that all wore the incorrect bra size. All but one of these women underestimated their back measurement and overestimated their cup size.

"Ill-fitting bras can exacerbate symptoms such as neck and back pain for which women seek breast reduction surgery," the study published in the British Journal of Plastic Surgery states.

"Correctly fitting bras might alleviate these symptoms and possibly remove the wish for surgery."

Over the past ten years, the most commonly purchased British bra size increased from 34B to 36C. Statistics suggest that 70 per cent of women wear the wrong size.

Mr Greenbaum told The THES that large breasts were a crippling problem for some women. He said that they were also often embarrassed because people talked to their breasts rather than their face. He was concerned that plastic surgery, which can leave extensive scarring and hinder women's ability to breastfeed, offers a surgical solution without exploring alternatives.

According to the study, women are often fitted for the wrong bra size because they are measured over the bra they are wearing. The study recommends that measurements be taken when women lift their breasts to a level at which they desire them to sit.

The study also reports that women with large breasts often choose bras with underbands that are too tight. This is to compensate for the tendency in modern bra designs for the underband to sit high up the back, which offers the breasts less support.

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