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Five myths about breast reduction surgery

Today I'm going to cover five of the biggest myths regarding breast reduction surgery.

breast reduction surgery

  1. It is cosmetic- Most breast reductions are done for reasons of medical necessity. Large, heavy breasts can cause some problems: back, neck, and shoulder pain; painful grooves in the shoulders from bra straps; irritating rashes under the breasts; numbness and tingling down the arms; and even headaches in the back of the head. All of these should be relieved in part or completely with a breast reduction. That said, breast reduction also provides some cosmetic benefits as well. The reduced breasts will be shapelier and more youthful (perky). 
  2. It is not covered by insurance- because of the legitimate problems caused by large breasts, most insurers, including Medicare, will cover the surgery if medical necessity can be shown. A plastic surgeon can tell you if you might qualify for insurance coverage.
  3. It is extremely painful and risky- Breasts are skin structures and surgery on them does not produce the intense, visceral pain that operations in body cavities do. Most patients will not require prescription level pain medications beyond the first few days. Many do well on Tylenol alone almost from the start of their postoperative period. Most patients comment that the pain was much less than they anticipated. Surgical risks of breast reductions are those of any operation. Minor complications are uncommon and major complications extremely rare. If a woman is in stable health, she should be able to have this operation safely. It is usually done as an outpatient. 
  4. It will cause loss of feeling- loss of sensitivity in the breasts, especially around the nipple/areola area is one potential effect of a breast reduction, especially for very large breasts. In most patients, however, the feeling is preserved essentially normally. Women with very large breasts typically do not have a lot of sensitivity in them. One technique for reducing extremely large breasts involves removing the nipple/areola completely and then putting it back as a graft after the breast is reduced. This will always result in loss of feeling in that area. In twenty-seven years, I have never heard a patient express regrets over the surgery because of loss of feeling. 
  5. There are horrible scars- Yes, the scars of a breast reduction can be extensive (see examples in my photo gallery under breast reduction), but they are rarely ever "horrible." In the vast majority of patients, the scars soften, flatten, and fade with time such that they can be very inconspicuous. Scar revisions are rarely ever required; I have done a handful in my career for this surgery. The benefits of the surgery so greatly outweigh the scars that few patients ever even bring this up. 

Five benefits of a breast reduction

  1. You will feel better- Relief of symptoms and problems of large breasts is the rule rather than the exception. This operation has close to a 100% success rate in relieving the problems of large breasts (see above). One of the most common observations of patients after the surgery is “I wish I had done this years ago!”
  2. Your clothes will fit better- One of the common problems of being large breasted is finding bras that fit comfortably. Also, it can be difficult to find tops to match bottoms of clothes because of the disproportion of being large breasted. You will be able to wear bathing suits better, wear tank tops if you wish, and even, if you are so inclined, go braless. 
  3. You will be able to be more active- Many women with large breasts are limited in their ability to exercise because of discomfort when they run, jump, or simply move. Even wearing double bras may not provide sufficient support to be able to exercise comfortably. This can make it difficult to lose or maintain one’s weight. A breast reduction will eliminate this issue once and for all. 
  4. You will be less self-conscious- While some women like having large breasts and being "showy," most feel self-conscious about being large breasted and try to minimize their breasts by wearing tight bras and loose tops to disguise their size. Most women do not like to call attention to themselves because of their breasts. (For those that do, see breast augmentation!) .
  5. The results are permanent- Once done, a breast reduction is forever. Regrowth of your breasts is almost unheard of unless you have a rare hormonal disorder or gain a great deal of weight later in life. Typically, a breast reduction is "one (pair) and done." A breast reduction can correct more than just large size. Sagging is always corrected as well. If the breasts are of different sizes, a very common finding, they can be evened up. Large breasts tend to be somewhat shapeless. Breast reduction produces attractively shaped, more youthful and perky looking breasts. 

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