Macromastia: how much of it is fat?

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002 Jan;109(1):64-8. doi: 10.1097/00006534-200201000-00011.


A total of 25 patients who underwent bilateral breast reduction were included in this study. Each patient's age, weight, height, and amount of breast tissue removed from each breast were recorded. The body mass index was calculated for each patient. On the day of the operation, tissue samples (two each) were taken from the central, lateral, and preaxillary areas of the breast. One of the samples was weighed, placed in a closed glass container, and heated for 10 minutes in a microwave oven at full power. The liquid fat was separated from the solid residue, and the percentage of fat was calculated. The other sample from each area was examined grossly, and representative sections, corresponding to the distribution of fat and connective tissue, were submitted for evaluation. In these samples, the percentage of fat, gland, and connective tissue was estimated using low-magnification light microscopy. In this group of patients (who had an average age of 34 years and who were significantly overweight as determined by a mean body mass index of 28), it was found (using the microwave method) that there was a mean fat percentage of 61 percent in the central breast area, 74 percent in the lateral breast area, and 73 percent in the preaxillary area. Upon microscopic examination, the pathologist reported that fat accounted for 64 percent of the central breast area, 92 percent of the lateral breast area, and 94 percent of the preaxillary area. On average, the central breast area in macromastia patients had only seven percent gland and 29 percent connective tissue. The lateral and preaxillary areas of the breast had one to three percent gland and five percent connective tissue. The two methods had a significant (p < 0.05) positive correlation in the central breast area, but in the lateral and preaxillary regions, the correlation was poor. In the microscopic examination, there was a tendency to overestimate the amount of fat. Both methods of evaluation used in the study concur that the enlarged breast of macromastia consists primarily of fat and that the glandular element is rather small.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / pathology