Breast Reduction Overview
Breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) is our most commonly performed reconstructive procedure of the breast. It is one our favorite operations because it not only is very successful at relieving the back, neck and shoulder pain caused by heavy breasts, but patients also feel it significantly improves their appearance. We take great pride in using our cosmetic skills to give patients the best possible result to this functional operation.
We have successfully performed this operation on a very wide range of patients. The ages of our reduction patients ranges from teenage years to patients in their 70’s. Of course, we want our patients to be generally healthy and at a stable weight. Especially on younger patients, we want the breast development to be stable. If you recently have given birth, we want to wait at least 6 months after you have quit breast-feeding before performing surgery so that the breast size and shape can stabilize.
A study performed on our breast reduction patients indicated that 98% reported significant or complete improvement in their symptoms of back, neck, and shoulder pain after surgery.
While full breasts may be considered attractive, excessively large breasts may cause several problems. Most patients complain of chronic pain in the upper back, neck, and shoulder areas caused by the excessive weight of the breasts. While medication, physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation and other conservative measures are often helpful in the short term, they usually don’t provide long term pain relief. Other symptoms we see in our patients include rashes beneath the breasts, skin breakdown, lower back pain, and headaches. Patients often find these symptoms limit their ability to exercise and make everyday tasks in their home and jobs more difficult. Over time, the weight of the breasts may cause curving of the upper spine (kyphosis) and deep grooves in the shoulders because of bra straps. Many patients are referred to our office by their primary care provider, chiropractor, or physical therapist when they continue to experience these symptoms despite treatment.
In addition to these physical symptoms, there is certainly a less tangible but certainly important reason many patients consider breast reduction surgery. Women may find their excessively large breasts make it difficult to find properly fitting clothes and bras. Many are embarrassed by their appearance and avoid clothing and activities (swimming pools, etc.) that make their breasts more apparent. Ironically, very large breasts may sometimes make breast-feeding more difficult. While these problems are generally not recognized by insurance companies as medical justification for surgery, we understand how significant they can be for many patients.