Given the growing prevalence of plastic surgery and focus on breast enhancement surgery, researchers have now flipped this on its head and turned their attention to the impact of breast size on healthy and active lifestyles, finding that some women pursue breast reduction to enable them to be more active.
A new study aimed to investigate how breast size impacts the exercise habits of women and how this compares to women who have undergone breast reduction surgery.
The study was based on a survey of nearly 1,987 women involved in the Parkrun programme in Australia, England and South Africa, excluding women with a history of breast cancer.
Impact of breast size reduction
Women who had undergone breast reduction reported increased overall frequency and enjoyment of exercise, as well as greater willingness to exercise in a group, leading to a more active and healthy lifestyle.
All 56 women who had undergone breast reduction surgery in the group of 1,987 surveyed women reported following more healthy and active lifestyles.
The study also found that women with larger breasts believe that reducing their breast size would improve their exercise performance and participation and that their breast size significantly impacts the type of exercise they do, making it more difficult to do high intensity exercise, for example.
As well as comparisons between 5km Parkrun competition times and bra size, the BREAST-Q study also looked at cup size satisfaction levels – which showed more self-satisfaction with AA, A, B and C cup sizes than DD, E, F, G and H or greater.
In addition, life satisfaction and happiness was significantly related to bra size, with cup sizes greater than E reliably reporting lower mean results.
“Our study found that breast size affects exercise habits and that breast reduction surgery changes women’s willingness to exercise,” said lead author Dr Claire Baxter, a clinical registrar in reconstructive surgery at the Flinders Medical Centre.
“We suggest that if breast size impacts women’s participation in sport and fitness, health practitioners and policymakers should advocate for better access to reduction mammoplasty in the publicly funded health sector,” she said.
No correlation was made between breast size and percentage body fat in the research study.
The study – Self-reported breast size, exercise habits and BREAST-Q data – was published in the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons’ Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery.