From chronic aches and pains to just plain old discomfort, there are a variety of reasons why someone may decide to get a breast reduction. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there about the surgery itself, and because of that, it can be difficult to recognize the physical signs and symptoms that can help you tell if a breast reduction is right for you. Luckily, doctors and other health professionals are there to help.
“There is not a specific cup size threshold that is needed in order to benefit from a breast reduction,” Dr. Lara Devgan, certified plastic surgeon, tells Bustle. So anyone having issues can speak to their doctor about exploring this option.
What’s more, breast reductions are pretty common nowadays — according to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2017, there were 59,463 breast reduction surgeries for functional purposes, and 43,635 breast reduction surgeries for cosmetic purposes. “A cosmetic reduction is one where the size of your breasts affects your lifestyle in terms of what you want to wear or your style aesthetic, for example,” board-certified plastic surgeon Rady Rahban, M.D. F.A.C.S., tells Bustle. “A functional breast reduction is when the size of your breast impacts your quality of life in terms of symptoms, including back and neck pain, sweating under the breast, bra strap pain in shoulder, or tingling in your upper extremities due to the pull of the weight of your breasts.”
If you’re considering getting a breast reduction surgery, here are seven physical signs to look out for, according to experts.
1. Bra Strap Grooving
Feeling like the weight of the world is (literally) on your shoulders? It may be time to look into a breast reduction. Dr. John Layke and Dr. Payman Danielpour, Founders of Beverly Hills MD, tell Bustle that the most common physical symptoms that breast reduction patients suffer are “pain due to the bra strap marks, as well as upper back and neck pain.” If this is something that continues to bother you, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor.
2. Numbness And Tingling In The Hands And Fingers
It’s certainly not uncommon for patients to experience joint pain and numbness within their hands and fingers pre-breast reduction. “Sometimes people complain about numbness and tingling in their hands and fingers,” Dr. Rahban says. “If breasts are large enough to pull on your torso and affect your neck position, you can end up with nerve pain that radiates down your upper extremities.”
3. Decreased Nipple Sensitivity
Enlarged breasts could affect how sensitive your nipples are as well. “Quite often, when you have very large breasts, there is decreased sensation to [the] nipple because the strain and pull of the breast puts the nerve under some tension,” Dr. Rahban says. If this is something that you experience, consult with your doctor to explore your options.
4. Shoulder Pain And Posture Changes
Those who have large breasts may notice that their posture is affected, and they may suffer from shoulder pain, too. “[Breast reduction patients] may experience back and shoulder pain, indicating their breast weight is causing discomfort. They may also notice their posture is not what it used to be,” Grace Anglin, family nurse practitioner at Capizzi MD, tells Bustle. Because posture changes can be attributed to several other causes, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor if this change becomes more pronounced.
5. Yeast Infections Under The Breast Crease
Unbeknownst to many, it is actually be possible to contract yeast infections under your boobs. “Women with large breasts can experience … frequent yeast infections at their breast crease,” Anglin says. “This is related to the large breast weight rubbing the skin on the breast and at the crease together.” If rubbing in this area becomes more uncomfortable than usual, it may be best to speak to a specialist about the cause, and possible solution.
6. Neck Pain
Neck pain is also a common symptom many breast reduction patients suffer from before surgery — and it’s a pretty valid complaint. “Just think if you were carrying a six pound dumbbell around your neck all day long,” Dr. Rahban says. “That’s essentially what these women are doing and you can only imagine over the course of years how this can impact your neck.”
7. Chafing, Sweating, And Rashes Under The Breast
According to experts, chafing and itchy rashes don’t have to just be from scorching heat: It can also mean you may want to consider a breast reduction. “Large breasts can cause chafing, rashes, and infections under the breasts,” Dr. Layke and Dr. Danielpour say.
If you feel you have any one (or more) of these uncomfortable and painful symptoms, it may be time to consider a breast reduction and check in with a board-certified plastic surgeon to hear their thoughts (and possibly put your pain to rest).
– Originally written by Laren Dana for Bustle Magazine