People who have excessively large breasts often suffer from physical and emotional pain that those with smaller breasts have a hard time understanding. Women with breasts that are unusually large or are disproportionate in size compared to the rest of their body may experience shoulder pain and back pain, and may feel self-conscious or experience poor self-esteem. Even daily activities like exercising and sleeping can be challenging and painful for women with a bigger bra size. Breast reduction procedures are rising in popularity across the United States as more women look to free themselves from the literal and figurative weight associated with large breasts, and many are asking a common question: how many cup sizes can you go down with breast reduction?
What is breast reduction surgery?
Breast reduction surgery, sometimes called reduction mammoplasty, is a procedure that surgically removes excess glandular tissue, skin, and excess fat from the breasts, resulting in a reduction of overall breast size. The technique used will vary depending on the patient’s individual anatomy and desired final results; surgical procedures include liposuction, the lollipop breast reduction technique, and the “anchor” or “inverted-T” procedure. Liposuction alone is most appropriate for patients seeking a slight to moderate reduction in breast size, while lollipop breast reductions are suited to candidates seeking a moderate reduction, and the anchor procedure is best suited to those needing a significant reduction in bra size.
When only liposuction is used, the scarring is very small and virtually undetectable, but only a limited number of patients are good candidates. Dr. Applebaum, a board-certified plastic surgeon, prefers to use the lollipop breast reduction technique whenever possible because it results in minimal scarring, but not all patients are good candidates for this procedure either. The lollipop breast reduction technique requires a vertical incision from the bottom of the areola towards the bottom of the breast, along with one incision around the areola, but no incision is required along the bottom of the breast, which separates it from other techniques. Patients with significant sagging looking for a breast lift as well, or those who need a substantial reduction, will have more success with the “anchor” or “inverted-T” procedure, which requires one incision around the areola, one from the areola to the bottom of the breast, and one along the crease of the breast. The recovery process after breast reduction surgery will vary depending on which plastic surgery procedure is performed.
Who should consider a breast reduction procedure?
It’s never easy to decide on an elective surgery procedure, but studies show that more than 95 percent of patients who have a breast reduction are satisfied with the results. If you are not sure whether or not a breast reduction is right for you, consider whether you experience any of the following symptoms as a result of your large breasts. If you experience several of these symptoms, a breast reduction surgery might help relieve your issues:
- Poor self-image due to large breasts
- Chronic rash or skin irritation underneath the breasts or underwire area
- Chronic shoulder, back, and neck pain requiring pain medications
- Grooves or marks on the shoulders from bra straps
- Difficulty sleeping due to discomfort from large breasts
- Breasts that are noticeably unequal in size
- Restricted physical activity due to large breasts, such as exercise
- Difficulty fitting into bras and clothing
- Nerve pain
- Poor posture due to the weight of large breasts
- Breasts that droop as a result of excess weight
It’s highly common for women with large breasts to experience multiple symptoms. Depending on which symptoms you experience, your health insurance may cover the cost of breast reduction surgery. Dr. Applebaum and his staff can help you navigate insurance approval.
How many cup sizes can you go down with breast reduction surgery?
One of the questions most commonly asked by patients is “How many cup sizes can you go down with breast reduction?” Like so many things in medicine, the answer is simply: “it depends.”
There are numerous factors that go into determining how much breast tissue can be removed and how many cup sizes you can go down, including the current size of your breasts, your breast composition, your body shape, and your goals. In general however, most patients who receive a breast reduction go down one to two cup sizes after the procedure. During your consultation, Dr. Applebaum will perform a physical exam and discuss your goals and treatment options, including which surgical technique is best suited to you and your body.
What is recovery from breast reduction like?
Breast reduction surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure that takes approximately three hours, and most patients go home the same day. Feeling tired and sore is common, but the majority of the pain subsides during the first few days. The details of your recovery will depend on the surgical technique that is used.
For example, the lollipop breast reduction technique has shorter recovery time and does not require the use of a drain in most cases, as compared to an “anchor” or “inverted-T” procedure. However, the lollipop technique is only appropriate for patients seeking a moderate breast reduction. Following a lollipop breast reduction surgery, most patients return to work and their daily routines within three to seven days, and experience minimal scarring after their incisions have fully healed.
By contrast, women who have significant asymmetry of the breasts, need a larger breast reduction, or have breasts that sag or droop significantly will likely require an “anchor” or “inverted-T” procedure. Patients will have drains placed under their arms to allow excess blood and fluid to be drained from the body following a breast reduction surgery performed using this method.
No matter which type of breast reduction technique Dr. Applebaum performs, you can expect your breasts to feel tender, bruised, or swollen in the first few days following surgery. Plan to avoid physical activity like heavy lifting and exercise for at least two to four weeks while the breasts heal and avoid strenuous exercise and weight lifting for at least six weeks.