Is breast reduction surgery right for you?

breast reduction surgery

This week, I am making a deliberate effort to write about a topic that is not related to COVID-19 and vaccines. Let’s talk instead about breast reduction surgery!

Breast reduction—also known as reduction mammoplasty—is a surgical procedure where excess skin, breast fat, and glandular tissue are removed from your breasts to create smaller, more lifted and naturally shaped breasts. Women with overly large breasts might choose to have breast reduction surgery to ease upper body discomfort, to achieve a breast size that is more proportionate to their body, and to feel better about themselves.

The breasts are returned to a more proportional size, and upper body muscle strain is reduced. Breast reduction surgery might also help improve one’s ability to participate in physical activities.

Women of all ages with large, heavy breasts will often request a consultation with me to discuss breast reduction surgery. Large breasts can cause physical discomfort, self-image issues, and emotional distress in women. It isn’t uncommon for me to discuss breast reduction surgery with teenagers with large breasts, and of course with older women too.

The most common problems associated with overly large breasts are:

  • Neck, shoulder and upper back pain caused by the weight of your breasts;
  • Rash and skin irritation under the breasts, especially during summertime;
  • Limitations in participating in certain activities;
  • Poor self-image;
  • Difficulty findings bras and clothing that fit;
  • Shoulder grooving from bra straps;
  • Headaches caused by the strain on your neck and back muscles.

Breast reduction surgery can be done at any age but is best done when your breasts are fully developed. There are a few important things to consider before deciding to have this surgery, especially if your breasts aren’t yet fully developed:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

As we know, the weight gain and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding have an impact on our breast size. If you haven’t started a family or if your family isn’t yet complete, you might want to wait until pregnancy isn’t an issue. Also, breastfeeding might sometimes be more challenging after breast reduction surgery.

Having said that, postponing breast reduction surgery is not the best decision for all women. Because everyone’s body is unique, it is important to meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in breast reduction surgery to help you make the best decision for your health.

Weight loss

If you are hoping to lose weight, it might be a good idea to have breast reduction surgery after your weight loss. Losing weight often results in a smaller breast size. However, some women struggle to exercise because of their large breasts, so discussing your unique situation with a board-certified plastic surgeon is important.


Note that breast reduction surgery is generally NOT recommended if you:

  • Smoke
  • Have health problems, especially diabetes
  • Are very obese
  • Want to avoid scars on your breasts

Did you know that many health insurance plans cover breast reduction surgery? Your plastic surgeon will first evaluate you to see if you are a good candidate for this surgery. Your surgeon will also need to obtain prior authorization from your insurance provider before surgery. Once authorization has been obtained, you will be able to schedule surgery.

If you’re considering breast reduction surgery, consult a board-certified plastic surgeon. Doing your research is important to understand what breast reduction surgery entails—including possible risks and complications—and to know what to expect before and after surgery. You also want to learn what you can do to get the best possible outcome.

It is essential to choose a plastic surgeon you are comfortable with and make sure all your questions are answered before surgery. Breast reduction surgery is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures, and women tend to love the results!

Valerie Lemaine, M.D., M.P.H., is a top-ranked, board-certified plastic surgeon in private practice in Bloomington, MN. She received her M.D. from University of Montreal, Canada, and her M.P.H. from Columbia University, NY, USA. She also completed a reconstructive microsurgical fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Lemaine then accepted a staff position at the prestigious Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) where she taught, practiced and published clinical research. In 2018, she transitioned to private practice and joined Plastic Surgery Consultants and Minnesota Oncology.