Health Complaints And Surgical Treatment of Symptomatically Large Breasts

Dr. David Tauber Plastic Surgeon Albany, NY

Dr. David Tauber is a Plastic Surgeon specializing in the natural augmentation and aesthetic sculpting of face and body. He completed both the Plastic Surgery Residency at Albany Medical College and the Fellowship in Aesthetic Craniofacial Surgery at the Harvard-Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Tauber combines his knowledge... more

One solution for women whose overly large breasts cause pain, discomfort, or emotional stress is a procedure known as breast reduction surgery. A breast reduction (or reduction mammoplasty) procedure removes excess skin, glandular tissue, and fat to reduce the size and weight of the breast. The overall goal is to bring your breast size into proportion with your body, as well as to reduce the discomfort that can be caused by this problem.

Why Choose Breast Reduction Surgery?

Patients with larger breasts often complain of physical pain and discomfort of the neck, upper back, and breasts, as well as rashes on the breasts and numbness of the arms. These symptoms affect the ability to exercise, work, and sleep by weighing on the tissues of the neck and upper back that support the breasts. In addition, large breasts can be a source of emotional discomfort stemming from a feeling of disproportion.

Although special bras, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, and pain management can often help these painful symptoms, breast reduction surgery is a more reliable solution for the physical and emotional problems that can be caused by overly large breasts. Most breast reduction patients experience immediate relief from their symptoms and wish they had explored breast reduction surgery earlier. 

Is a Breast Reduction the Right Option for Me?

Breast reduction surgery is a highly individualized procedure. You should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit into the box of any ideal image. Breast reduction is potentially a beneficial procedure for any woman, regardless of age, who has large, heavy breasts. Although it is a plastic surgery, it is not considered a cosmetic procedure because of the potential lifestyle benefits that can be gained by reducing the weight and size of the breasts. 

Breast reduction surgery may be a good option if you are a physically healthy non-smoker, as well as if the size and weight of your breasts have bothered you for an extended length of time. If your physical activity is limited due to your breasts, and they cause pain in your neck, shoulder, or back, as well as lead to discomfort in your back, shoulders, and ribs due to the digging of bra straps, then you are a potential candidate for breast reduction surgery. 

If you experience irritation and pain along the breast crease, the skin of your breasts is stretched, making them hang low with an increase in your areola size, or your nipples droop below the breast crease when unsupported, then you may also benefit from breast reduction surgery.

Breast Reduction Incision Options

Your breast reduction procedure begins with a series of incisions, through which glandular tissue and fat may be removed. The ideal technique for your breast reduction depends largely on how much skin needs to be removed. A keyhole incision (which results in a lollipop-shaped scar in the middle of each breast) may be a good choice if your breasts hang low and if a lot of the skin is present. If the breasts are relatively high sitting, a circular incision (which results in a round, donut-shaped scar around the areola) can be just as effective. The procedure itself requires general anesthesia administered by a qualified anesthesiologist, and recovery time is generally around two weeks. In many cases, scarring is minimal and fades to invisibility within one year.

Will My Insurance Cover Breast Reduction Surgery?

This is one of the most important issues for women who are considering breast reduction surgery. Insurance plans vary considerably from patient to patient. However, three general conditions must be met in order for breast reduction surgery to be covered by insurance. The first condition requires that there is a medical need. The medical need could include ailments such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, pain from bra indentations in the shoulders, and rashes. The second condition is that patients must try to alleviate their symptoms using non-surgical means – physical therapy, chiropractor treatments, weight loss, and pain management, and finally, the tissue to be removed must meet certain weight requirements.