Breast reduction surgery removes excess fat and skin from the breasts to reduce their size. Breast reduction surgery is sometimes performed purely for cosmetic reasons – to reduce the size of the size of the breasts to be more in proportion to the rest of the body. However, in some cases, it is performed primarily to relieve discomfort and health issues caused by overly large breasts.
Overly large breasts can cause much discomfort. Deep grooves may form in the shoulders from the pressure of over-burdened bra straps. Rashes and skin irritation can occur in the crease under the breasts. Some women have difficulty sleeping, and many cannot engage in healthful exercise. Many of these women also suffer from chronic back pain.
The back is designed to hold precise alignment referred to as “good posture.” Sitting, standing, and moving with poor posture shifts the back out of its optimal alignment and can lead to pain from stressed muscles and ligaments. Over time, it can also lead to damaged discs and arthritic changes in the vertebrae themselves. Extremely large breasts are heavy, and the effort of holding them up stresses the back, shoulders, and neck. Imaging studies have demonstrated that large breasts alter the curvature of the upper spine, emphasizing the vertebrae and the discs as well as the surrounding muscles.
Breast reduction surgery can quickly and permanently relieve the discomfort. Various studies have shown that after breast reduction surgery, women experience not only significant relief of pain, but also improvements in physical functioning, posture, and quality of life. Breast reduction surgery can be performed on patients at about any age, including teenagers. The operation is performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made around the nipple and down the underside of the breast, and excess tissue is removed. Some women can go home the same day of the surgery; others require an overnight hospital stay.
Immediately after the procedure, the breasts will be bandaged, and there may be a drain placed to remove excess fluid. The breasts may be sore, swollen, and bruised. Physical activity will need to be limited for up to 4 weeks, and a special compression bra may need to be worn during this time.
In general, breast reduction surgery is quite safe. It is a surgical procedure, and there is, therefore, a low but not zero risk of complications due to anesthesia, blood loss, or infection. The most common adverse events are scars, loss of sensation in the nipples, and difficulty in breastfeeding. However, over 80 percent of women who have undergone the procedure report being very satisfied with the results of the surgery, both in terms of relief of symptoms and in terms of the appearance of their breasts.