When Less is More

Is breast reduction right for you? Find out about the health benefits of this increasingly common surgery.

If you're considering a breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty), chances are that you're living with some chronic pain. Uncomfortably large breasts can cause back and neck pain, skin infections and irritations, poor posture and breathing problems. It's especially a problem for active women. When you have overly large breasts that are nearly impossible to support, running, walking or doing any sort of high-impact cardio puts undue stress on your back and neck. Breast reduction is proven to alleviate most of these symptoms, with the added benefit that it also helps you feel less self-conscious about your body, and more in proportion.

Research Confirms Benefits of Breast Reduction

As more women have realized the benefits, breast reduction surgeries have been on the rise. Women realize that they don't have to put up with the pain (and embarrassment) of uncomfortably large breasts. In fact, a study from the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the New York University School of Medicine, which looked at 59 women who had breast reduction surgery, found that the benefits were particularly noticeable for women with smaller frames.

The study authors found that breast reductions of less than 500 grams per breast (about two cup sizes) helped get rid of women's back, neck and shoulder pain. Breast reduction also improved their quality of life because they were able to exercise more, play sports and wear a wider variety of clothing. Three months and then one year after their surgery, the women were asked about changes in pain and quality of life. They were asked to rate their pain from a score of 1 to 5 (5 being highest). The scores for lower-back pain, neck pain, headache and bra-strap "grooving" fell dramatically after the surgery.

Breast reduction is fairly straightforward procedure, which removes excess tissue, fat and skin, and then adjusts the nipple to its new position. The surgeon also lifts and reshapes the breast, so that it looks natural and proportional. It's usually outpatient, or includes an overnight stay. There is sometimes minor pain in the days following the surgery, although this subsides in seven to 10 days. Most women can return to work after two weeks.

 
 

More in Breast