Breast Reduction Surgery: Everything I Wish I Hand Known Beforehand

I was 19 when I got my surgery, but patients’ ages vastly vary. “We’ve performed breast reduction on women in early high school, in their mid to late teens, and certainly on women who are much older, well into their 60s and 70s,” Dr. Shridharani says. “It’s really a function of making sure that there is good emotional maturity but also breast maturity, so typically the recommendation is to wait at least until the teenage years to be able to have the procedure. Anything younger really needs a pretty extensive endocrine and pediatric workup to understand why the hormones have changed so rapidly.”

There are many reasons for why people get breast reduction surgery

“Most people get a breast reduction not only because they wish to have smaller breasts but due to a group of symptoms which commonly occur from large breasts: neck, back, and shoulder pain, rashes under their breasts, difficulty with certain activities, deep shoulder grooves, and difficulty finding bras that fit,” says Dr. Doft. That said, Dr. Shridharani notes that there are plenty of patients who opt for the procedure for aesthetic and cosmetic purposes as well.

And then there’s the emotional component. For younger women, we know it’s often associated with concerns around humiliation and embarrassment “because they’re young and in school and are often teased or [receive] undue attention from young and older men,” adds Dr. Shridharani, unfortunately proving that my teenage experience wasn’t unique. “There are a lot of psychological elements to having very large breasts that often lead to women wanting a breast reduction.”

Breast reductions can be covered by insurance

“Breast reductions can be covered by health insurance, and usually the reasons are because of the extensive symptoms,” Dr. Shridharani explains. “But it also requires substantial workup. It can take even up to a couple of years to prove to an insurance company that you are suffering from back and neck pain, shoulder pain, and/or have rashes, and often there needs to be several visits with a dermatologist to rule out the rashes or cause of the rashes because of the issues with how much skin on skin there is.”

Other concerns also need to be worked up by a spine surgeon or chiropractor, or a professional who can vouch for the fact that there is extensive back, neck, shoulder pain that is affecting the overall quality of life, he adds.

You will need to make pre- and post-op lifestyle changes

Prepare to make a few lifestyle modifications. “It is best to be at your ideal weight prior to surgery as the surgery will be tailored to that weight,” says Dr. Doft, “and you should avoid medications and supplements prior to surgery that can cause bleeding. Examples are NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil), aspirin, Coumadin, Plavix, and supplements like fish oil.”

You will also need to limit alcohol and quit smoking, at least temporarily. “I don’t like patients drinking alcohol at least two weeks before surgery so they don’t have a lot of dehydration, or what they’re drinking doesn’t impact the way that they’re going to bleed or bruise,” says Dr. Shridharani, and you’ll need to quit smoking at least a month beforehand. “Smoking is a big no-no. We want patients off of vape, nicotine, any type of smoke including marijuana, cigars; all of those things have the ability to impact not just anaesthetic but also the way that the lungs are healthy and can actually take the oxygen in when the ventilator is breathing for the patient, so to speak.”