For a significant amount of people, having large breasts isn't all fun and games. Carrying an extra few pounds around can cause all sorts of problems, from shoulder grooving, to back and neck pain, and even sweating and rashes. But
breast reduction surgery, although quite common, is often misunderstood. Luckily, plastic surgeons can break it down a bit.
First of all, if you're considering a
breast reduction, you are not alone. "Plastic Surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery perform more than 90,000 breast reductions each year in the United States," Dr. Brian Eichenberg, certified plastic surgeon, tells Bustle. "It is very common." The procedure itself is subject to a lot of misconceptions, however. And these misconceptions are only doubled-down on by the cultural factors. Many patients who opt for the surgery have experienced people telling them they should feel "lucky" to have big boobs, or asked if they regret it. These kinds of preconceived notions make the reality of breast reduction all the more murky.
Put simply, a breast reduction is intended to increase comfort in a person's life. "A breast reduction is a procedure in which the volume or mass of the breast is made smaller," board-certified plastic surgeon
Rady Rahban, M.D. F.A.C.S., tells Bustle. "The typical patient is one whose large breasts are causing back pain or neck pain, makes it hard to wear clothing or are simply unmanageable." People who undergo this procedure are largely looking for relief.
"Contrary to popular belief, there is minimal discomfort after having a breast reduction," the founder of Castellano Cosmetic Surgery Center
Joseph J. Castellano, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.C.S., tells Bustle. But there are some things to consider before you jump in.
Here are 15 facts about getting a breast reduction, according to experts.
Breast Reduction Is Actually Possible For Any Size
There is no cup size threshold for needing (or wanting) a breast reduction. They're right for anybody who can benefit from the procedure.
"Breast reductions are right for individuals with breasts that hang low,
those that have back pain, and those that see interference with physical activities," Dr. Rian Maercks, an aesthetic, craniofacial, and reconstructive plastic surgeon, tells Bustle. So if you've got medium-sized boobs that still hurt when you run, it's totally valid to bring up the possibility of a reduction with your doctor.
It's Not Only For People Who've Always Had Large Breasts
Another surprising fact about breast reduction is that it's not only for people who have had large boobs since puberty. Bodies change over time, and your need for a reduction can increase as well.
Dr. Adam Kolker, board certified aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, tells Bustle that breast reduction is for people with large boobs that have grown as a result of pregnancy or other body changes as well. So if you've experienced these changes, but are hesitant to ask for help because you don't think you fit the bill — think again.
Breast Reduction Is Possible For All Ages
Another surprising aspect of breast reductions is that they aren't just for mothers or older people. Even young people, and minors who are experiencing issues, can get the procedure. "In terms of age, all patients are good candidates," Dr. Rahban says. "We do breast reductions in young teens all the way up to older mature women who are developing symptoms. What’s important is that the patient is healthy and can tolerate the surgery." So if you're experiencing symptoms, no matter your age, it's within your right to bring it up to a professional.
It's An Outpatient Procedure
Even though it may seem like a daunting procedure,
breast reduction is actually not that time-consuming or intense. "The surgery is an outpatient procedure so patients go home the same day," Mihye Choi, MD, plastic surgeon at NYU Langone Health tells Bustle. After that, recovery is not that bad either. That's due to the nature of the procedure.
"The procedure typically takes approximately three hours, and [is] done under general anesthesia," Dr. Castellano says. "No external sutures are used. Everything is done under the skin, and all sutures are dissolvable." This means that recovery is expedited.
Dr. Chris Robinson, of Snodgrass & Robinson Plastic Surgery Specialists, tells Bustle that patients usually return to normal activity in a week, and unrestricted activity in six.
Every Breast Reduction Also Includes A Lift
Breast reduction, despite its name, is not only about removing tissue. It also involves lifting the breast. "A breast lift is always included with a breast reduction," Dr. Kolker says. It's a secondary aspect, but it's a way to tailor the skin to fit the reduced tissue.
This means that your new breasts will look more natural, avoiding the problem of loose skin.
You Can't Choose A New Cup Size
It may seem appealing to imagine a new cup size for yourself, but that's actually not how the surgery works. "While it is very helpful to know what a person’s goal breast size might be, it is not possible to choose a postoperative cup size before surgery," plastic and reconstructive surgeon
Dr. Constance Chen tells Bustle. "Every bra company sizes their cups differently, and the cups also vary based on a person’s overall body size. The best approach is to provide the surgeon with a photo of your ideal breasts on someone who has a body similar to your own." So focus on shape, not size, and be open with your doctor about what you're looking for.
Your Ability To Breast Feed Might Be Changed
While it's a myth that breast reduction will stop you from being able to breast feed in the future, it is worth considering that
breastfeeding might become an issue down the line. "Most people can breast feed after this surgery but a few may not be able to because of internal scar tissue resulting from the surgery," Dr. Choi says.
Luckily, almost 80 percent of patients are able to breastfeed after a reduction, according to Dr. Robinson. But if you're concerned that you're in need of a major reduction, breast feeding is worth bringing up with your doctor. In extreme cases, the nipple must be relocated during surgery during the lift. "For this reason, we recommend breast reduction surgery for women who are no longer expecting to bare children," board certified plastic surgeon
Dr. Paul Chasan tells Bustle. This, however, is rare.
You May Or May Not Lose Sensation In Your Nipples
Though it's not always the case, some people report losing sensation in their nipples after a breast reduction. "Nipple sensation may be affected making them less sensitive. The sensation will recover after a few months but there could be some persistent numbness. Most patients are fine with this because they are willing to exchange this for lighter more comfortable breast size," Dr. Choi says.
But, according to most plastic surgeons, this isn't a major concern. "We rarely take off the nipples and put them back on, you should expect to maintain your nipple sensation and it often increases," Dr. Eichenberg says. "The scars usually end up looking really good." So don't fret too much about the fact that you may lose sensation, just be open with your doctor about concerns, and know that scar tissue may bring the possibility.
You Will Have Scarring — But Not As Badly As You May Think
A big impediment to a lot of people considering breast reduction is the scarring. Even with
Ariel Winter's confidence on the red carpet, it can be daunting to consider having a permanent reminder of the surgery. Surgeons want to assure you that these scars are often less overwhelming than they may seem, but that they're a necessity.
"Breast reduction procedures will involve permanent scars on the breast skin that may fade over time but will always be there," Dr. Chen says. "When a person undergoes breast reduction, [they are] trading scars for an improved breast shape and size." The scarring depends on the procedure, and your skin's natural ability to heal. Ask your doctor about incision type, and tell them what kind of post-op look works best for you.
The Surgery Does Not Guarantee Symmetry
Having asymmetrical boobs is one of many reasons people choose to get a breast reduction. Nevertheless, although surgery is a science, it's impossible to guarantee complete symmetry after the procedure.
"Breasts are sisters not twins," Dr. Chen says. "Breasts come as a pair, so the surgeon should try to create breasts that are as symmetrical as possible. Even nature does not always have perfect symmetry, however, so subtle asymmetries may be possible after surgery — especially if they were present before surgery." You're improving on your natural look, so know that what comes after will be beautiful (but natural) too.
Breast Reduction Cannot Be Done With Liposuction Alone
Some surgeons have found that many people believe breast reduction to be liposuction only. That's not the case. "Breast reductions usually cannot be performed with liposuction alone, because it would leave excess skin that would make the breasts look deflated," Dr. Chen explains.
Liposuction is one of a variety of tools used to perform a breast reduction, according to Dr. Kolker. The surgeons are committed to using a combination of techniques that will create the best results for your needs.
The Procedure Might Reduce Cancer Risk
It may seem like the facts of surgery are all daunting — with a risk of one thing or another — but there are certain unknown parts of a breast reduction procedure that are actually quite positive. One of them is the reduced breast cancer risk. "Breast reduction reduces your risk for breast cancer because it decreases the amount of breast tissue that you have," Dr. Eichenberg explains.
Dr. Choi cites two peer-reviewed studies, one from the journal
and one from Cancer , to back up this finding. Also, post-op, your doctors will analyze your breast tissue as well. "We analyze all tissue removed to make sure the tissue is normal and non-cancerous," Dr. Choi explains. So, if you're considering your risk of breast cancer, breast reduction is an valid procedure to bring up with your doctor. Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery
Your Breasts Will Require A Different Kind Of Care For A Bit
You may feel like you can finally
rock a bralette, but wearing bras is still important after a breast reduction. Regardless of how lifted they are, your breasts will continue to change over time, as all breasts do.
"Gravity keeps tugging on the breasts both before and after surgery," Dr. Eichenberg says. Wearing a bra may help combat that. After surgery, your breasts will have changed, and their needs will have changed too.
Breast Reduction Has One Of The Highest Patient Satisfaction Rates
With the facts of the procedure taken into consideration, doctors want you to know that breast reduction is a positive experience, above all else. "Breast reduction procedures tend to have some of the highest patient satisfaction rates, as most patients feel very happy and relieved that they underwent surgery," Dr. Chen says. "Most likely, this is because the physical discomfort from heavy breasts is gone immediately after surgery, as a weight is literally lifted off of a woman's shoulders. In addition, most women feel less self-conscious about their chest after surgery, and combined with the lighter load they are able to stand up straighter with a better posture. Often, this makes a [patient] look more self-confident, and many [patients] describe feeling more self-confident too."
So if you're considering a breast reduction, it's vital to understand what goes into it. Regardless of your age, boob size, or goal, it's likely worth it to discuss the possibility with a doctor. Like all medical procedures, there are risks. But there's also the possibility of coming out of the procedure with a renewed energy and perspective. Stay informed, and allow yourself to try to feel better.