While some women elect to have augmentation surgery to make small breasts bigger, there are others whose naturally large breasts cause them difficulty and pain in their everyday lives.
Breast reduction is a surgical procedure used to lift and reduce the size of large breasts through excision of skin, fat and glandular tissue. Having large, pendulous breasts is associated with a variety of cumbersome and sometimes painful effects. The majority of individuals who opt for reduction surgery are a size D cup or larger, and experience at least a few of the following symptoms:
Neck, back and/or shoulder pain
The heavy weight of large breasts can result in chronic neck, back, and/or shoulder pain. This is one of the most common reasons a person may undergo breast reduction. Even with the most supportive brassiere, gravity causes the breasts to sag and pull on the aforementioned areas.
Rashes in the crease underneath the breast
Individuals with large, sagging breasts often experience submammary intertrigo, a rash underneath the breast at the junction of the breast and the chest wall, caused by trapped humidity. They are also more susceptible to rashes and skin irritation caused by ill-fitting brassieres.
Digging bra straps
Large breasts require brassieres that can support their heavy weight and distribute it properly. It is common for large-breasted women to wear bras that don’t fit their shape and size, often resulting in digging bra straps and underwire.
Numbness in the fingers
On occasion, the pulling of a brassiere strap between the clavicle and the first rib presses on the ulnar nerve as it comes from the neck in transit into the arm. The pinching of this nerve can result in numbness of the little finger and ring finger.
Difficulty with certain types of exercise (i.e. jogging, running, jumping, etc.)
Women with large, pendulous breasts often find it difficult to do certain exercises and activities such as jogging, jumping rope, etc. due to the chest bouncing and pulling from the active movement. Even in less active forms of exercise such as strength training or yoga, the breasts may “get in the way” and prevent the individual from performing the exercise properly.
Difficulty finding tops and bras that fit properly
Women with large breasts may have difficulty finding shirts and bras that fit them the way they should. It is common to have a top fit in only the chest area and be too large or long in all other areas, or have a top that generally fits be too tight in the chest area.
It is not uncommon for women with large breasts to have posture issues caused by slouching and curving of the spine. Managing the weight of the breasts requires a conscious effort to keep the spine straight.
Breathing constriction, especially when laying down
In some cases, excessively large, heavy breasts may cause breathing difficulty when in the supine position because of significant weight on top of the lungs.
Confidence and body image problems stemming from large breasts
Aside from physical issues, large breasts can be a source of self-consciousness and cause a lack of self-confidence or body image issues. This physical characteristic is almost impossible to hide or fix without breast reduction surgery, so many women live with the emotional and mental duress for long lengths of time.
Who is the ideal candidate?
You are an ideal candidate for breast reduction surgery if you are:
- Someone who experiences at least a few of the above-mentioned symptoms
- A non-smoker
- In general good health
- Do not plan on becoming pregnant or breastfeeding in the near future*
*Every woman is different, and pregnancy can affect breast size in a variety of ways. Depending on your anatomy and desired results, mammary glands may be removed/affected during breast reduction surgery. You may have difficulty with breastfeeding, and your breasts may change size/shape during pregnancy and nursing and become engorged when milk comes in.
Is breast reduction covered by insurance?
Breast reduction is often fully or partially covered by insurance. Coverage depends on the insurance company and the physicians assessment deeming the procedure “medically necessary.” It is a good idea to contact your insurance company prior to a cosmetic surgery consultation to determine the coverage requirements and details.