Family Health: Breast reduction surgery puts women on path to better health

Being physically active is one of the most important ways to stay healthy. But for women with very large breasts, that’s easier said than done. Excessively large breasts, a condition called macromastia, can make exercising a painful experience.

Besides limiting activity, large breasts can also cause neck, shoulder and back pain. Women with this condition can develop a chronic rash under their breasts, and deep grooves under their bra straps. Changes in posture from the weight of heavy breasts can also lead to numbness and tingling in hands and fingers. Large breasts can even make it hard to get a good night’s sleep.
Women with these symptoms often try to relieve discomfort by wearing sports bras, taking pain-relievers, using heat or ice packs or through physical therapy. These approaches can provide short-term help for some minor symptoms, but studies show they don’t relieve severe problems from heavy breasts. Even losing weight has limited benefit.

A more effective solution is breast reduction surgery, or reduction mammoplasty. This procedure removes excess fat, tissue and skin from overly large breasts. The result is breasts that are lifted and proportionate to your body, which relieves pain and discomfort and allows for a more active and healthy lifestyle.

Breast reduction surgery is done on an outpatient basis, so most patients go home the same day. The procedure follows these general steps:

  • You’ll receive general anesthesia, which ensures that you remain asleep during the procedure. Local shots are also used to numb the area and reduce pain after the surgery.
  • Incisions are located so that scars are minimal and easily concealed under a swimsuit or bra.
  • Breast tissue is reduced, shaped and lifted to achieve a smaller and more symmetrical shape. The nipple is repositioned to fit with the breast’s new contour.
  • Stitches are placed in layers to support the breast’s new shape, and the incisions are closed. You may have surgical tape or dressings on your breasts to protect the incisions as they heal.

Recovery from breast reduction surgery is remarkably fast for most women – most feel much better within 24 hours. Pain from the incisions is minimal compared to most surgeries, since no muscles or supportive tissues are cut. And you’ll quickly feel relieved by the reduced strain to your neck and back.

Breast reduction surgery can also enhance your self-image and self-confidence, since your posture and body profile will be improved. However, this isn’t a cosmetic procedure – macromastia is a recognized medical condition, and most insurance companies cover surgery to relieve its symptoms.