I am often asked, "What operation has the happiest post-op patients?"
The answer is easy – breast reduction.
These patients are so happy and grateful; it makes this one of my favorite operations to do. Often the patients come in for their post-operative check-up the next day, and they say they can already tell that their back and neck feel better. And the older patients say, "Why didn't I do this years ago?!"
The fact is, breast reduction surgery works to relieve back and neck pain related to hypertrophy of the breasts, and patients are grateful.
The amount of breast tissue removed varies by the size of the patient, so in smaller-framed women, usually less is removed—they are just proportionally smaller—but usually, the final cup size is a "happy medium" – not too small and not too large. This is something that each patient should discuss with their plastic surgeon, and they will do their best to get to the desired cup size.
Most of the time this operation can be done as an outpatient procedure, so in other words, you do not stay overnight at the hospital. And the recovery is not too bad; usually a few weeks of resting off of work and heavy exercise, but many patients are able to do desk work at home. The exact type of scar depends on the type of reduction, but in general, they all heal very nicely, and all my patients tell me they consider the scar a fair trade-off for the relief from their back and neck pain.
Breast reduction is covered by insurance plans if you have symptoms that are not relieved with more conservative measures, such as massage therapy or trying better support bras. There is a process of pre-approval that your plastic surgeon and their staff will work with you on to accomplish, and they will need to submit the documentation from your family physician of the failed nonsurgical treatment.
Teens are a special category of patients who get a breast reduction. It is safe and effective for these women also, and because they are usually quite healthy, they bounce back from surgery quicker. Often these young ladies are involved in sports and are greatly hindered by the large size of their breasts. Due to the extra physical exertion and stress on their bodies they can have neck and back pain at a much younger age. Teens who proceed with breast reduction are lucky to have an operation that will change their lives in such a positive way!
If you are experiencing back and neck pain, and think a breast reduction might be an option, I recommend speaking to your family doctor about your symptoms and then consulting with a board certified plastic surgeon.
For more information, including a list of ASPS plastic surgeons in your community, please use our Find a Plastic Surgeon tool.