Video transcript

There are some issues in medicine that don’t get a lot of air play, and breast reduction surgery is one of those.
Hi, I’m Dr Joe. When you read the gossip mags and the tabloids you’d sort of be left with the impression that the only form of surgery that can be done on breasts cosmetically is to make them bigger, and certainly there is a lot of that that goes on. It’s therefore sometimes a thing that causes people to scratch their heads, to think that for some women having breasts that are too large is actually a problem. And it is in fact a potential medical problem. How and why is that so?
The breasts obviously if they are larger carry a larger amount of weight in them, and that weight needs to be supported by the body. So for a lot of women they will experience back pain, neck pain, and dragging across the shoulders. This can be an ongoing source of discomfort, and it is a function of the weight. Now people might say, “Hang on, can’t you get bras that support the weight of the breast?” The answer to that is yes, you can, but they don’t always do the trick fully, and sometimes even the bra straps will tend to dig in to the top of the shoulders. So a lot of these women who have this problem they really do find that they are in some degree of constant discomfort. Because of the strain on the neck muscles, this can also lead to headaches.
Breast reduction imageNow separate to that – and again when one talks about these things, it’s sometimes hard for people not to sort of think, “Well, this can’t be right,” but it in fact is – it can also be a little bit of a psychological issue. Notwithstanding there are a number of women out there who will want their breasts made larger, for some women it can be an issue that makes them self-conscious if their breasts are actually thought to be too big. Now obviously this is a relative term and what constitutes big or small is very very much in the eyes of the beholder. But that’s the key thing: it really is about the individual who has them, rather than necessarily what other people think.
Alright, what can be done? In much the same way that breasts can be larger (and that’s done with implants), breasts can be made smaller by removing some of the breast tissue. It’s not a “difficult” procedure and it’s generally done by a breast or a cosmetic surgeon.  Scarring is something that women do worry about when these procedures are done; with breast reduction surgery there will be a fine line scar. That will be underneath the breasts so it’s not something that it generally typically very visible. If you’re looking for it you can find it, but it’s not something that’s going to be particularly visible. It’s not “major” surgery but you probably would be in hospital for a few days or so.
For women who have had this sort of surgery done, they often really find that it makes a considerable improvement to their general health and wellbeing. You just feel better. You don’t have that constant discomfort or aching in the back and neck. It’s often something that they don’t talk about, because as we’ve said before a lot of people will come up with the obvious lines which I’m not going to use here pertaining to, you know, “Why would you get something like that done?” But it’s very, very easy to talk about what other people have when we don’t actually have it ourselves. So unfortunately this is a group of women who don’t attract a lot of sympathy.
Okay, the most important thing to know is that if you are having symptoms in the upper neck or back pertaining to the size of your breasts, then there is surgery that can be done. It’s not “difficult” surgery but you will need to see your GP and he will refer to a breast or a plastic surgeon for consideration; they will obviously go through all the ins and outs with you, what you can expect, length of time in hospital, post op care, all of those sorts of things. You’ll probably be in for a couple of days or so. For those who’ve had it done, they often feel a lot better for it. That’s not to say that’s it’s the solution for everybody or that you should all charge out and do it, obviously, but for those women who do have those symptoms pertaining to the size of their breasts then it is something where you can ask the question and find out whether this form of surgery may be beneficial for you.

Breast pain For more information, see Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammaplasty or Mammoplasty).