Reduction mammoplasty, commonly known as breast reduction surgery, is a surgical procedure in which excess fat, tissue and skin are removed from the breasts. This surgery can be performed at any age, although it’s generally recommended to postpone it until full development has taken place. There are several reasons for considering reducing the size of the breasts.
Large breasts can be extremely uncomfortable. Chronic back pains, as well as shoulder and neck pain, are common complaints. Poor posture develops due to the disproportionate size of the breasts compared to the body frame. Activities are often restricted because of the discomfort that may result. Movement can feel restricted as the upper body feels bulky.
Chronic skin conditions can develop under the breasts. Mild to severe rashes tend to be recurrent. Yeast infections can easily form because of the warm, moist environment caused by skin-on-skin under the sagging breasts. Wearing a support bra could possibly alleviate the issue but would cause severe discomfort.
Many candidates for breast reduction report that their clothes don’t fit right. Bras are uncomfortable because the straps cut into their shoulders. They are apt to have poor self-image and be extremely self-conscious. This also leads to poor posture as they attempt to position their bodies in such a way as to take the focus off their breasts when around others. They also suffer poor posture because the heavy breasts pull downward and cause a strain on their necks, backs and shoulders.
When opting for and consenting to this surgical procedure, the plastic surgeon seeks the client’s input and feedback. There is a discussion about the desired end results, particularly in reference to the projected size and appearance post-surgery. Risks are also discussed. Photographs are taken for documentation purposes.
The surgery is done under general anaesthesia. Some reduction surgeries are performed in a hospital and others are done in outpatient facilities. It’s not always necessary to stay overnight. That’s decided upon by the recommendation of the operating physician following post-surgery evaluations. As is typical after undergoing general anaesthesia, the patient is not allowed to drive and must be accompanied if discharged.
The surgical technique that’s used depends upon the doctor and the evaluation of the breasts. Typically, an incision is made around the areola. An additional incision is made down the breast. Tissue, skin and fat are taken out. Nearly always, the nipple and areola stay attached but it’s not possible in every case. When removal is necessary, they are reattached with proper positioning.
When the surgery is over, the breasts are covered by sterile gauze. Sometimes they are bandaged as well. It’s not unusual for a drainage tube to be in place under each arm to handle any excess fluids post-surgery. There can be some tenderness and bruising. Activity is limited while healing takes place.
Of course, there are risks with reduction mammoplasty as there are with any type of surgery. Bleeding, risk of infection and an adverse reaction to the anaesthesia are standard concerns. There will be scarring which will fade over time. It’s possible to have an allergic reaction to surgical materials such as latex tubing, tape, etc. It’s also possible for asymmetry to occur which can be corrected with additional surgery. While breast-feeding may be difficult in some instances, some physicians believe that it’s a remedial issue that requires proper instruction and support.
Results can be seen and felt right away. Bruising, tenderness and scarring will likely last for several months. There will be notably less pressure on the neck, shoulders and back. When higher activity can resume again, there is often the ability to take part in some sports and activities that were severely limited prior to surgery. There is generally a vast improvement in self-image.
Some celebrities have helped bring about awareness of the fact that breasts can definitely be too large. Famous women who have made their careers in the spotlight have shared their own experiences of coping with huge breasts and eventually undergoing surgery.
One of the first to speak publicly about breast reduction was Drew Barrymore. She listed the same complaints shared by most women who know what it’s like to be overly-endowed. She suffered back pains and shoulder pains. She was very self-conscious, particularly because men didn’t look her in the eyes; they were always talking to her breasts. She didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin or her clothes. She had the surgery done back in 1992 (she was sixteen) and has never regretted it.
Loni Anderson had her breasts reduced in 1995. She recalls being a size 37D when she was only fourteen years old. She was miserable with her early breast development because her body measurements were so out of proportion. Reduction to a 36C made a world of difference.
Soleil Moon-Frye, remembered as the character Punky Brewster, suffered horribly from insecurity as a teenager; it was a direct result of developing huge breasts. She was a 38DD when she was only fifteen years old. She stood just over five feet tall. She recalls being tormented by kids who would call her Punky Boobster. After downsizing her breasts, she openly spoke about feeling free. Prior to the surgery, it was even difficult to try to hug her little brother.
There is a misconception in some cultures that breasts can’t possibly be too large. Some people respond with disbelief at the very mention of breast reduction. Too many people think it’s impossible to be too big; ‘more is better.’ Fortunately, there are women who have elected to have the procedure; they are now advocates for other women who suffer physically, emotionally and socially because they happen to develop huge breasts.
These women will tell you what a relief it is to need a smaller bra size. At least now, they can wear one without the straps making deep grooves into their shoulders. They can wear strapless gowns. They can run, jump and dance. The surgery helped them to become participants in life instead of spectators. For women who have breast reduction surgery, ‘less is more’; more fun, more comfort and more self-confidence.