ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Continuing to eliminate medical symptoms and improve the quality of life for women, breast reduction surgery and breast reconstruction procedures increased 111 percent and 166 percent, respectively, since 1992. In 2000, nearly 85,000 women had breast reduction surgery and more than 80,000 women opted for breast reconstruction surgery following mastectomy, according to statistics released today by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the most comprehensive survey of reconstructive plastic surgery to date.

ASPS statistics now represent procedures performed by member surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery as well as physicians certified by other American Board of Medical Specialties’ boards.

“It’s no myth that these two procedures drastically change the lives of women,” explains ASPS President Walter Erhardt, MD. “Breast reduction surgery relieves pain in the back, neck and shoulders. Beyond the medical problems it allows women to feel more comfortable in clothing and more importantly – with themselves. Breast reconstruction aids in women’s physical and emotional recovery from cancer, helping ease the fear of disfigurement from mastectomy.”

Because heavy breasts can lead to medical problems including skeletal deformities and breathing problems, many women request breast reduction surgery. Last year, breast reduction surgery was performed on 84,780 women troubled by large, sagging breasts, which restricts activities and causes discomfort and self-consciousness.

Breast reconstruction surgery, the recreation of the breast for women who have undergone breast removal due to cancer or other disease, was performed on 80,908 women. Whether performed immediately following mastectomy or at a later time, breast reconstruction can dramatically improve a woman’s appearance, self-confidence and quality of life.

Access to breast reconstruction following mastectomy increased due to the passage of the ASPS supported Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act 1998, which mandated insurance coverage for breast reconstruction and the alteration of the opposite breast for symmetry for women who have undergone a mastectomy. The ASPS was a proud supporter of this legislation.