Quick Calculation of Breast Resection Mass Using the Schnur Scale

Ann Plast Surg. 2019 Mar;82(3):316-319. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000001643.


In 1991, Dr Paul Schnur and his colleagues published an article correlating the weight of breast tissue to be removed in a breast reduction operation with the total body surface area (BSA) of the patient. They presented a very cogent argument for selecting three groups of patients: those with medical indications for operation, those who merit review, and those whose operation could be considered cosmetic. The Schnur Sliding Scale is widely used by insurance companies in the western United States in the process of preauthorizing breast reduction operations, and its use may be spreading eastward. The Schnur group presented a nomogram for calculating BSA and a scale in the form of a table for guiding a determination of whether the patient is a reconstructive patient as opposed to an aesthetic patient. We have combined the scale and the BSA nomogram for a simplified nomogram calculator that facilitates rapid determination of anticipated tissue weight of resection for a patient of a given size. This calculator yields the required weight of tissue to remove with just knowledge of the patient's height and weight and the use of a straight edge. We demonstrate and compare performance of this calculation by hand and by nomogram. There is ample evidence that the practice of applying the Schnur Sliding Scale may be prohibitive to symptomatic patients seeking reduction mammaplasty and should be abandoned. While this practice continues, our simplified Schnur Sliding Scale nomogram is meant to help easily determine the insurer-required minimum breast resection weight and thereby both improve patient counseling prior to planning surgery and assist the surgeon with achieving insurer reimbursement for the procedure while avoiding rejected claims.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Surface Area*
  • Breast / abnormalities*
  • Breast / anatomy & histology*
  • Breast / surgery
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy / diagnosis
  • Hypertrophy / surgery*
  • Insurance Coverage / economics*
  • Nomograms
  • Organ Size
  • Reimbursement Mechanisms
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States

Supplementary concepts

  • Gigantomastia